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World Tourism Day: Virtual educational tourism on the rise

September 27, 2020
– Sukanya Nandy

World Tourism Day is celebrated annually across the globe on September 27 since 1980. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about the importance of tourism in influencing the social, cultural, political and economic values of the international community. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism sector has taken a backseat. But the onset of technology has made it possible to make an international trip while sitting safely at home.

Bespoke Tailormade Experiences launched its first virtual travel itineraries in May, this year, which is for kids aged between 9 to 18 (split into age-appropriate travel categories), titled titled ‘Summer Adventure 2020’ The luxury travel company brought together native residents from seven countries – Spain France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Japan, and China, to take kids off on a cultural tour of their country through eight virtual sessions of one and half hours each.

Through the itinerary, kids will get learn about the historical and cultural hotspots in a foreign land, their language, can cook an easy meal through a live session as well as take pop quizzes. Participating children would also get a certificate for taking the trip.

Chhavi Chadha, founder of Bespoke told EducationWorld, “The online trips are curated keeping in mind the age and interest of the children. The concept is to create a virtual travel experience with a local facilitator, which is engaging, fun and they also learn the language, culture, historical sights of a country. So, we have made a local dish like crepe during a France tour and a drink like sangria for a Spain tour. The children get to learn the basic spoken language, for example, greetings in Japanese. They follow an itinerary during the tour and visit the cities and its sights virtually. When we launched the virtual tour we got an overwhelming response as it gave a hope to travel to a lot of kids, we had 15 kids signing up for each tour and more wanting to join, so we had to add more days to accommodate all.”

Talking about virtual tourism in the post-Covid era, Chadha says, “Virtual tourism would carry on post-Covid days as an alternate for those who are unable to travel physically. Although it can’t replace physical travel experiences but it can still be an option for those who can’t travel physically – it will keep their travel spirit satiated.”

Bespoke India also launched a ‘Virtual Birthday Bash’ for kids in July that allows parents to help their kids celebrate their birthdays remotely by booking a two hour travel to any country in the world. This bash would include music, language lessons, games, and visually remarkable country travel.

Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington has developed an experiential learning tool for school students, who will be able to get a chance to ‘visit’ Peru and learn about its people and culture. The award-winning tool was built using virtual reality gaming software but a new web-based version means schools can access it without specialised equipment.

Students will be able to take a virtual visit to Machu Picchu Pueblo in Peru where they will find out about the country and explore the costs and benefits of tourism from a sustainability point of view. Dr Christian Schott of the university’s School of Management, developed the tool with a multi-disciplinary team, including staff from the university’s Faculty of Education who provided guidance for schools on using it for teaching and learning.

Dr Schott says, “It allows students to experience many aspects of a distant place and world, without having to travel there and have the greenhouse gas impacts that go with that.”

He adds, “Equipment constraints and other challenges for secondary schools have led us to develop a version of this virtual reality tool that is usable on computers without the need for virtual reality headsets. We want to enable all students to access this learning, not just those in high decile schools” adding that this tool “brings together experiential education and virtual reality technology to both immerse learners in a meaningful ‘case study’ and to cater to a wider range of learning preferences than commonly fostered through reading, writing or listening.”

To celebrate World Tourism Day 2020, students of Amity School of Hospitality showcased a virtual tour portraying the significance of cultural heritage of states such as Assam, Gujarat, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand. Prof. (Dr) Amit Jain, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Amity University, Jaipur asserted that, this year the observance of World Tourism day is virtual and today as we are all temporarily grounded, the wonders of internet have proffered us virtual tours direct on our screen. 

Read: Travel and tourism: Matchless glamour of the tourism industry

Also read: Karnataka composite tourism destination

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