Are Metaverse and traditional tourism the “mortal enemy”?

New hope or another “trap”?

On December 28, the 2021 Metaverse Forum of Baidu Create Conference was held in Creator City, the first city of the virtual space multiplayer interactive platform in Greece. This is the first time that the Create Conference has set up the Metaverse Forum, and it is also the first time that it has been completely held in the virtual space of the Metaverse.

The Metaverse of the hot vocabulary in 2021 is a virtual parallel world independent of the real world, or a kind of “advanced mapping” of the real world. At the moment, for the tourism industry that is deeply affected by the epidemic, Metaverse seems to be able to provide new ideas for the expansion and reconstruction of tourism scenes, but on the other hand, there are also concerns that people should be wary of the sense of accomplishment brought by Metaverse. Lost the desire to explore the real world.

How should we view the cultural tourism industry from the perspective of Metaverse?

1. The first year of Metaverse, empowering the tourism industry

2021 is known as the first year of the Metaverse. This year, the Japanese social gaming giant GREE will enter the Metaverse field through its subsidiary REALITY; Facebook launches a VR remote collaborative office platform; Microsoft also proposed an enterprise Metaverse solution at the Inspire conference .

Although the Metaverse has attracted much attention and expectations from all parties, it does not have a universally recognized definition.

Tan Ping, head of the XR laboratory of Alibaba Dharma Academy, once expressed his opinion: “Metaverse is the entire Internet on VR and AR glasses.”

In recent years, the industry and capital circles have been eager to find a technology export for the “next-generation Internet platform”. Metauniverse may be a breakthrough port for upgrading from the Internet era to the Internet of Things era. The epidemic has become a catalyst, and Metauniverse emerged as the times require. .

For the cultural tourism industry, the virtual space constructed by Metaverse and the immersive experience of basic characteristics coincide with the development direction of the current tourism industry. According to the definition in the prospectus of Rob Lex Games, known as the “Metaverse First Unit”, “Metaverse” has 8 attributes, namely “identity, friend, immersion, low latency, diversification, anywhere, economy System and civilization”. With the continuous upgrading of people’s pursuit of highly immersive experience, the demand for life entertainment experience, travel experience, work experience and other related experience products is getting higher and higher, and ordinary shallow experience products can no longer meet the needs of experience consumption.

With the blessing of 5G, artificial intelligence, AR, VR and other new technologies, cultural travel scenes are no longer a single viewing process. Tourists tend to substitute themselves in the experience process, bringing people immersive and delay-free social interaction Experience can surpass physical space, users have a high sense of participation, and can get feelings that are hard to get in the real world. Social satisfaction and the fun of the Metaverse will also attract more users.

The digital transformation of the cultural and tourism industry is the general trend. A major feature of Metaverse is its “presence”, that is, it needs to create an immersive experience. The immersive travel experience is also a new travel model pursued in the digital age. The arrival has accelerated the pace of transformation. Cloud tourism and cloud viewing exhibitions have become a trend. Scenic spots and museums have also launched immersive performances and immersive exhibitions.

2. Competing for layout

Metaverse extends a broader space for the development of the tourism industry. Many cultural tourism scenic spots and theme parks abroad have begun to explore Metaverse.

Disney CEO Bob Chapet said that the Metaverse is Disney’s future and will build its own Metaverse.

As early as the end of 2020, Disney announced its grand “Metaverse” strategy-Disney Cruise’s original stage play “Frozen” combines traditional theater technology with the most advanced technology to create the Arendale Ice World. “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” everything starts in a connected paradise, where visitors can use networked devices, such as wearable devices, phones and other interactive digital access points, to interact with the surrounding physical environment. When technologies such as computer vision, natural language understanding, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things are added to the park, the physical environment can be seamlessly combined with the digital world to create special new experiences.

The American Matterport company uses VR technology to enable users to experience the five major relics of Egypt; South Korea’s theme park Lotte World launched a virtual replica of the park in the technology giant Naver’s Zepeto Metaverse, which restores the outdoor magic island part of Lotte World, and users can use it Zepeto App enters the Lotte World Map, you can experience the landmark magic castle, gyroscope jumping machine, Atlantis adventure roller coaster and other attractions and attractions.

In 2021, Metaverse is gradually landing in China’s tourism industry.

Are Metaverse and traditional tourism the "mortal enemy"?

Source: Datang Everbright City

During the National Day last year, Xi’an Qujiang Datang Everbright City created a Metaverse project “Datang Kaiyuan”. Through digital technology, traditional Chinese buildings can be vividly restored and presented in the digital space, allowing the virtual and real world to interact. Online and offline linkage, NFT, Metaverse, etc. create a large number of new consumption scenarios, providing a feasible path reference for commercial realization.

On November 18, Zhangjiajie became the first scenic spot in the country to set up a Metaverse Research Center. The relevant person in charge stated that this is “to provide theoretical and technical support for the digital transformation of tourism, to realize the digital transformation of the tourism economy and the high-quality development of global tourism.”

The first batch of Dunhuang series digital collections officially released on the only art platform of Dunhuang Academy of Fine Arts were successfully released. In less than 10 minutes, the first 25,000 copies were sold out, and the Dunhuang Metaverse era officially began.

Are Metaverse and traditional tourism the "mortal enemy"?

Caesars Culture stated on the investor interactive platform that the game background environment code-named “Animal Planet” is completely designed in accordance with the Metaverse model, with three dimensions of time, environment, and ecology, and NFT technology has also been introduced. The company has been paying attention to the underlying technology related to Metaverse games, and has cooperated with Shanghai Jiaotong University to research key technologies in the field of AI, and has made some phased progress; it is also actively developing related projects in the AR/VR field.

However, the game’s launch time and region are affected by many factors, and there is still uncertainty, but once the news is released, the company’s stock has several daily limits.

On December 3rd, the first domestic metauniverse theme park developed by Shenzhen Fairytale Dad Cultural Tourism Technology Co., Ltd. will land in Guangming Town, Shenzhen. The project plans to invest 7.5 billion yuan in three years to lead the IP “Adventure Little Prince” into metauniverse era.

3. Bright prospects and twists and turns

Metaverse will break through the limitations of traditional travel “time” and “emptiness”, and gain a more immersive, technological and compensatory experience. However, the People’s Daily commentary once issued an article calling for keeping a sense of prudence and rationality while being curious and exploring new things.

Many people in the cultural and tourism industry have raised doubts about the concept of Metaverse. Some people say that “from the perspective of virtual replacing reality, Metaverse and scenic spots should be natural enemies.” After all, the biggest impact of the Metaverse on tourism lies in its ability to transform time and space. It can project distant people and scenery, realistically, in real time, and holographically around us, forming a twin world.

But there is a problem, that is, our demands for the experience and accessibility of traditional tourism have become less urgent, which will directly reduce everyone’s willingness to travel and the degree of payment.

Liang Jianzhang, the co-founder of Ctrip Group, also issued an article saying: We should be wary of the sense of accomplishment brought by Metaverse and make people lose their desire to explore the real world. “From the perspective of the complexity and logic of the Metaverse, it is still a lot worse than the real universe. The Metaverse can indeed create almost all fun at low cost, not only entertainment but even social interaction, family affection and sense of accomplishment are possible. Being simulated and realized in the Metaverse, people can have fun that is impossible in the real universe, or the fun that is very costly in the real world.”

Are Metaverse and traditional tourism the "mortal enemy"?

Worrying is not unreasonable, but it is too early. Because the construction of the Metaverse is still in its infancy, technical limitations are currently the biggest bottleneck restricting the development of the Metaverse.

“Metaverse” is not simply a certain emerging technology, but requires the blessing of 5G, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain, big data and other emerging technologies to complete it. Therefore, its construction requires a large number of technologies, a large number of enterprises, and the ecological cooperation from the government to the industry. It is certainly not possible for a single company to complete.

To realize the Metaverse in the true sense, the construction of the global Internet, the substantial improvement of the hardware level, the mature application of 5G and the maturity of related technologies will take time.

Lin Huanjie, director of the China Theme Park Research Institute, also said that at this stage, most of 5G+XR can only open up separate spaces and projects to become a small-scale content, but it is difficult to become the core attraction of scenic spots or theme parks.

As far as current technology is concerned, Metaverse has a more obvious empowering role in social cultural tourism projects, such as script killing and immersive plot entertainment. If Metaverse technology is added, the sense of presence will be stronger and the experience effect will be better.

In addition to technical constraints, whether Metaverse can empower cultural tourism to achieve large-scale deployment and application requires a mature business model. Cultural tourism does not have an advantage in the field of equipment, because at present, the technological content of domestic cultural tourism equipment is relatively low. The cost of equipment with advanced technology applied in the scenic area is high, but it is difficult to reduce costs and increase efficiency under the condition of limited passenger flow. This is a problem that needs to be considered.

In the face of the current Metaverse boom, people should maintain a rational cognition. First of all, beware of some companies using technology and concepts to make excessive hype, especially to be wary of harvesting scams in the capital market. Secondly, when real space meets virtual space, the regulatory gaps that appear behind Metaverse need to be paid attention to, and policy supervision should be incorporated into it in an orderly manner to ensure the healthy and orderly development of the industry.

What we can make clear is that the “Metaverse” is not only an independent world, but a complementary real world closely connected with it. The future positioning of Metaverse in the cultural and tourism industry is more like an auxiliary product for tourism, and it is impossible to replace real tourism. When Metaverse becomes an important part of the digital transformation and development of cultural tourism scenic spots, relevant companies in the industry chain should be encouraged to strengthen basic research, enhance technological innovation capabilities, and steadily improve technological maturity.

Although “Metaverse” is still in its infancy and envisaged stage, and many technical problems and basic facilities have yet to be broken through and improved, the opportunities and prospects “Metaverse” brings to the cultural and tourism industries deserve continuous attention.

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