Skift Take

History is a unique asset for every destination, but often one that doesn't elicit a lot of excitement from travelers, especially as they continue to trend toward unique travel experiences. Augmented reality and virtual reality could be an unlock for destinations that want to leverage more of their rich pasts.

Destinations and attractions are investing in virtual and augmented reality technologies to drive interest and foot traffic to historical attractions. During the ITB Berlin conference last week, some attractions, tech providers and destinations discussed how such technologies will heighten the visitor experience.

As immersive technologies continue to improve, there’s been a growing interest to integrate them seamlessly with experiences at attractions. At the 2022 Skift Global Forum, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Josh D’Amaro used the term “next generation storytelling” and wants its implementation to be the next step at Disney theme parks and attractions.

Historic Royal Palaces, a charity that manages the UK’s unoccupied royal palaces, partnered with Layered Reality, an immersive experiences technology provider, to launch the Gunpowder Plot, which allows visitor groups to follow the story of the 1605 failed assassination plot through a combination of virtual reality and live acting at the Tower of London, said Andrew McGuinness, founder of Layered Reality, at an ITB session titled “Augmented Reality: The Potential, The Upsell & The Opportunities.”

Singapore Tourism Board wants to bring some attractions to life with augmented reality technology as part of its plan to enhance the “wow factor” of the destination, according to CEO Keith Tan at the session titled “Digital, Personalized and Open: How DMOs Gain Ground in Digital Travel.” 

One site of focus now is Fort Siloso, a World War II fort, on Sentosa. “If you go today, you don’t know the story, you don’t know what happened there,” he said. “You just see the cannons and the fort and that’s a very poor, very limited experience.”

Singapore wants to use 5G-powered augmented reality technology to show visitors what World War II was truly like for the fort’s defenders, especially the British troops, said Tan.

McGuinness thinks the future of augmented reality technology will in advancing personalization. Artificial intelligence will be able to give visitors a personalized experience even if they share a group tour.

“It’s kind of paradox that we want personalization, but we also want shared experiences. We need to solve that,” he said. “Augmented reality and artificial intelligence will definitely allow us to do that.”

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Tags: augmented reality, disney parks, london, singapore, Singapore Tourism Board, virtual reality

Photo credit: A Bright Approach Founder Charlotte Lamp Davies, Layered Reality CMO Samantha Fay and Layered Reality Founder Andrew McGuinness at the session titled "Augmented Reality: The Potential, The Upsell & The Opportunities" at ITB Berlin Dawit Habtemariam

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