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Virtual Reality in tourism – Is it real enough?

Lars BREHM, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Applied Sciences Munich, Germany, lars.brehm@hm.edu

Andreas HUMPE, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Applied Sciences Munich, Germany, andreas.humpe@hm.edu

Marion RAUSCHER, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Applied Sciences Munich, Germany, marion.rauscher@hm.edu



<insert-authors> (2019). <insert-abstract-title>. AIRTH 2019 Conference: Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Success; 2019 Sep 12 - 14; Innsbruck, Austria. Retrieved: <insert-date>, from http://www.airth.global


VR (Virtual Reality)-Technology is increasingly becoming popular in the tourism sector and areas of use are manifold (Guttentag 2010). So far, the most researched application is the marketing of destinations with VR. Tussyadiah et al. (2018) found, that the feeling of being in a virtual environment creates a positive sensation for the potential tourist, which leads to a stronger preference for the destination and ultimately a higher likelihood of visiting the destination. In contrast, VR has also been mentioned as a means to limit or reduce the number of tourists at a specific sight or destination. For example it might be sensible to restrict the number of visitors at vulnerable natural or cultural spots such as heavily visited heritage sites. In this respect VR is considered as a substitute to the actual trip (Sussman, Vanhegan 2000).

This paper aims to address this question within a slightly different context. Currently there is an ongoing discussion about destinations and sights that are visited by a tremendous amount of tourists. This overtourism phenomenon may lead to adverse sensations for the tourist and an overall negative travel experience. Whereas specific ticketing and visitor management systems are one means to tackle this problem, this paper points into a supplementary direction. It looks at the possibility to apply VR-technology to transfer the real life experience into the digital world. Therefore it poses the question of what Guttentag (2010) refers to as accessibility. The acceptance by the visitor is crucial to the deployment and there is only very limited research dealing with this aspect. tom Diek et al. (2018)  for example look into VR adoption in the context of natural parks. 

In an exploratory research framework, visitor behaviour and experience are investigated when encountering a VR sight. Specifically, the behaviour of 18 test persons is being observed when visiting the digital reproduction of a famous touristic attraction in a virtual cave. Subsequent semi-structured interviews with participants give further insight into the involvement of the visitors as well as positive and negative assessments of the tourism experience. MAXQDA is employed for the qualitative data analysis with categories referring to the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) by Venkatesh et al. (2003). Adjustments, however, were made where necessary to adapt to travel-related motivation.

The findings of this qualitative empirical research help to understand the necessities when providing a VR travel experience. The general acceptance of VR environments as a substitute for the actual travel encounter is better apprehended. When appropriately implemented the technology application cannot only be useful to decrease visitor concentration in touristic hotpots but can further be applied to sites where visitors physically do not engage because sites are either too distant, too expensive, too inhospitable, too unsafe or too fragile.



Guttentag, D. (2010). Virtual reality: Applications and implications for tourism. Tourism Management, 31, 637-651.

Sussmann, S., Vanhegan, H. (2000). Virtual reality and the tourism product: Substitution or complement? In: H.R. Hansen, M. Bichler, H. Mahrer (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th European conference on information systems 2, 1077-1083.

tom Dieck, D. et al. (2018). Tourists’ virtual reality adoption: an exploratory study from Lake District Nation Park. Leisure Studies, 37(4), 371-383.

Tussyadiah et al. (2018). Virtual reality, presence, and attitude change: Empirical evidence from Tourism, Tourism Management, 66, 140-154.

Venkatesh, et al. (2003). User Acceptance of Information Technology: Toward a Unified View. MIS Quarterly, 27, 425-478.



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