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The impact of the metaverse on the tourism sector.

"A few days ago, I read an interesting report by McKinsey that addressed this topic." "The article was titled:"

And it has made me reflect on the topic... Honestly, I find it difficult to believe that such an experiential activity like traveling can be completely virtualized, but I do think that certain "variations" on the concept can and will be virtualized.

A clear example on a slightly different scale is the virtualization of business travel that we have experienced as a result of the pandemic... which has been largely virtualized and for which VR solutions have been implemented to maintain a certain level of interaction and engagement that a screen cannot provide.

However, I am certain that virtualization, which is essentially a further step in digitalization, will have a significant impact on:

-The "discovery" phase: the decision-making process of whether or not to travel to a destination, planning activities at the destination, selecting accommodations, and excursions.

-The "assistance in travel" phase: for troubleshooting issues, travel assistance, and complementing the prior "discovery" phase.

-The "living the travel" phase: sharing part of the travel experience with those who couldn't accompany us, becoming hosts in the destination. Here, mixed reality technology has great potential for experiencing and sharing the real-time experience.

But where I see a clear application, and one that could be realized in the relatively near future, is in being able to enjoy "specific" experiences that are far from our location, with limited capacity, and with restrictions due to price or necessary skills.

The clearest evidence of this can be seen in concerts. One has to struggle to get tickets through a platform, travel, queue to enter, be packed in with others, and have a subpar concert experience... and in the end, for what? It seems to be just to watch the concert through a mobile screen while livestreaming it to your fans to boost your ego.

And this is not limited to just "concerts," as this trend extends to theater performances, events in sports stadiums, religious buildings, and more.

Imagine being able to experience the event in 4K, with high-quality sound, from the comfort of your home or chosen location, using VR or hybrid reality glasses. You could select the perspective from which you want to view the event, rewind moments, and even order food delivery to make the experience more enjoyable... 👌

It's been a while since efforts have been made in this area. I remember back in 2015, there was a U2 concert that was live-streamed on YouTube in HD, with a small virtual entrance fee.

There have also been initiatives in virtual worlds within the metaverse, such as the NBA embedding you within the game experience.

But we're not far from the day when we can experience a Formula 1 Grand Prix from the seat of our favorite driver, participate and live within the America's Cup from inside the boats, take part in a downhill ski or mountain bike race from the World Cup, with a 100% immersive and interactive experience.

Likewise, I can imagine visiting monuments without the crowds, being able to spend as much time as you want, navigating through unexplored rivers, and more.

In those cases, I see a clear application for virtualization, provided that the associated hardware and software are up to par to make the experience feel 200% real. Yes, we will even perceive smells and have sensory experiences—it's just a matter of technological evolution.

However, I find it difficult to envision virtualization completely replacing the experience of waking up in a 5-star hotel with unique views. Not to mention the gastronomic experience, cultural immersion, and the unpredictability that comes with traveling.

So, while virtuality will have its place, I don't believe it will radically transform the concept of "traveling" in the tourism sector. However, the "discovery" phase will undoubtedly see changes, and industry players should focus on that aspect.

As for events, except for "old-school fans," they can indeed be transformed, offering certain experiences to groups who, for various reasons, cannot or do not want to enjoy them in the current in-person formats.

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