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Can virtual tourism aid in the recovery of tourism industry in the COVID-19 pandemic?

Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed tremendous impacts on the tourism industry worldwide. The tourism sector can take advantage of the new technology (e.g., virtual tourism), to respond to the challenges. This study aims to explore how virtual tourism can aid the recovery of tourism industry. We explore this through a mixed-method approach. Our results show that the use of virtual tourism can be partially explained by the theory of planned behavior. Virtual tourism has a strong influence on people’s onsite destination choices and can be used as an effective marketing tool. Virtual tourism can be an entertainment activity to bring immersed experience without being actually in the destinations, and thus reinforce stay-at-home order. Even after the pandemic is over, people still show willingness to use virtual tourism for diverse purposes. Virtual tourism can also help promote sustainable tourism by reducing unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and enhance “virtual accessibility” especially for the elderly and disabled with limited mobility.
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