The VRSciT project (2020-1-PT01-KA204-078597) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

New realities: a systematic literature review on virtual reality and augmented reality in tourism research

Study Field
Environmental Education, Culture and tourism, Special Needs, Science Communication
Summary
Despite the growing interest and discussions on Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in tourism, we do not yet know systematically the knowledge that has been built from academic papers on VR and AR in tourism; if and how VR and AR research intersect, the methodologies used to research VR and AR in tourism, and the emerging contexts in which VR and AR have surfaced in tourism research. By conducting a systematic literature review on VR/AR research in tourism, this work seeks to answer five main research questions: (1) Which tourism sectors and contexts have VR and AR research emerged in?; (2) Which forms of VR and AR have garnered the most attention in tourism research?; (3 and 4) What methodologies/theories are being utilized to research VR and AR in tourism?; and (5) What are the research gaps in VR and AR tourism research? From a synthesis of 46 manuscripts, marketing and tourism education emerged as the most common contexts. However, issues with heterogeneity appeared in terminology usage alongside a lack of theory-based research in VR and AR. Also, gaps were identified where challenges identified revolved around awareness of the technology, usability, and time commitment.
Innovative VR tools and techniques
● VR definition is a computer-generated 3D environment that the user can navigate and interact with, resulting in real-time simulation of one or more of the user’s five senses.
● Visualization defines where the user has the ability to look around, usually with the use of a head-mounted display; Immersion is a suspension of belief and physical representation of objects; Interactivity relates to the degree of control over the experience, usually achieved with sensors and an input device like joysticks or keyboards.
VR in education
● VR/AR-based systems were more effective in improving student motivation and satisfaction than traditional ones, especially for situated, inquiry-based, and self-regulated learning.
● AR enhanced enjoyment, motivation, and interaction of learners.
● VR/AR have great potential in the various sub-sectors of tourism. Whether it is in the context of education, marketing, cultural heritage, or sustainability, the technology offers novel and interactive avenues for dissemination of information that have previously been impossible.
● Presence correlates to higher levels of cognitive performance and emotional development, factors that contribute to knowledge construction. In their adaptation, the environmental richness and high level of interactivity attributed to VR resulted in a higher degree of presence amongst all participants.
● VR in education would lead to improved knowledge construction. In tourism education, the ability to simulate scenarios and facilitate interactivity in a virtual environment bodes well with the current push towards e-learning.
● Presence theory identifies involvement and immersion as two primary characteristics that enhance the user experience in a VR environment.
● Immersion was dependent on time spent in the VR experience and recommended longer sessions for the user to have a higher sense of immersion and thus presence.
● Research has shown that VR’s greatest strength is its ability to visualize spatial environments. This is especially crucial in tourism, where products are intangible and are confidence goods that consumers are not able to test in advance. Putting on a VR headset and being able to compare different destinations could help consumers make informed decisions.
● Virtual experiences provided more effective advertising compared to brochures due to the richness and interactivity of the information.
● Gamification, tourism education, destination marketing, and cultural heritage are just some of the tourism sub-sectors which have utilized VR in different ways.
● Presence is correlated to higher levels of cognitive performance and emotional development, factors that contribute to knowledge construction. In their adaptation, the environmental richness and high level of interactivity attributed to VR resulted in a higher degree of presence amongst all participants.
● VR in education would lead to improved knowledge construction. In tourism education, the ability to simulate scenarios and facilitate interactivity in a virtual environment bodes well with the current push towards e-learning.
● Virtual tourism lies in the benefits which could bring to those who have restrictions on travel, such as physical disabilities, financial difficulties, or social stigma.
● VR’s greatest strength is its ability to visualize spatial environment and is recently emerged in the mainstream markets.
Reference
Ryan Yung & Catheryn Khoo-Lattimore (2019) New realities: a systematic literature review on virtual reality and augmented reality in tourism research, Current Issues in Tourism, 22:17, 2056-2081

The VRSciT Project

The VRSciT project (2020-1-PT01-KA204-078597) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.