Virtually Visiting claims to be the ‘world’s first professionally guided 360° virtual global tours platform’, taking armchair adventurers as far as the Arctic north to the coast of South Africa. Jenny Southan reports
After two years of development, Virtually Visiting is giving curious explorers the chance to experience tours from around the world – all from the comfort of their own home but with a real-life guide.
In total the platform offers a library of 40 tours of destinations including Northern Scandinavia and Australia, which are all accessible either on a desktop computer, mobile or through a VR headset for a greater sense of immersion. They typically last no more than 20 minutes.
The innovative platform provides unique, pre-recorded experiences, ranging from city tours to kayaking adventures. Much like a real-life tour, visitors can look around, focusing on whatever catches their eye, while listening to the tour guide.
Jonny Cooper, founder of Off the Map Travel and Virtually Visiting, says: “As part of the launch, we will give visitors the chance to virtually travel around the world, starting with a whistle-stop journey of eight different countries in eight minutes.
“The platform also gives fair value to the tour guides and companies for their digital content. Having worked in the travel industry for so long we really felt this was a missed opportunity for them.”In addition, Virtually Visiting has free tours of India available, where visitors can virtually explore Ladakh and Kashmir. A new video will go live each day after launch so you can explore India daily.
For those looking to travel further afield, additional tours can be accessed for as little as £1.50.
According to statistics from Virtually Visiting, one billion people watched online travel content each month in 2021 due to travel restrictions, disability or a lack of disposable income.
Edwin W, a user who has tested the platform said: “Virtually Visiting is a truly immersive experience. While watching the tour I felt like I was really there and found myself spinning around trying to take everything in. You’ll probably find yourself watching the tours over and over again because with a 360 virtual tour you can see something new every time.”
Virtually Visiting is thought to be the only digital platform that brings together travel and virtual reality to deliver a 360º video experience. The company uploads “trips” curated by real tour guides, creating an ever-growing library of destinations.
Speaking about how Virtually Visiting is paving the way for a new way to travel, Cooper says: “We live in a world where people crave instant gratification and a desire for video content. Virtually Visiting is a truly unique platform that appeals to those unable to travel, as well as those who can.
“From simple escapism through to noting down top tips from local experts ahead of your next holiday, the platform is aimed at anyone looking to discover what the world has to offer. Our tours are a human-centric approach to virtual tours with visitors able to ask questions and book a physical tour with the same guide afterwards.”
Visitors will also create their very own “online passport”, which gives them access to the free tours as well as the opportunity to purchase additional tours.
For every tour booked, visitors will get a stamp showing where they have “travelled” so they can revisit anytime, as well as keep note of their progress around the globe.
Working with 55 tour companies across 30 countries the library continues to be added to weekly, keeping the content fresh and interesting.
Cooper says: “We want travel to be accessible to people 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, not bound by time, season or availability.
“The experience you’ll get is as close to the real thing as you can possibly make it. These are real tours and experiences delivered by the best guides in the business.
“While virtual travel experiences have been around for some time, our approach is a more immersive experience connecting people with real life travel guides and companies, bringing benefits to both. We like to call it ‘phygital’ – merging the physical with digital technology.
“Virtual tourism is an exciting way for people to experience the wider world – and something we believe will add to the richness of the travel industry and travelling community.”