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Embracing the New Normal with Virtual and Hybrid Travel Expos

Over the past eighteen months plus, the ways we experience spaces and places have changed. With the reduction of physical tourism, leisure, and cultural activities during the pandemic, more and more visitors have turned to augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR) to satisfy their wanderlust and experience culture and travel from the comfort of their homes. 

For many providers in the travel and tourism industry, the pandemic was a painful realization of just how far behind they were in their digital transformation journey. Many were left unable to realize fully digital visitor experiences. They lacked the required processes and systems to quickly scale up digital experiences and the internal talent and governance structures to pivot to virtual tourism. 

For those who swiftly and successfully launched virtual and digital cultural and travel experiences initially thought they would only be in operation for a short time. However, close to 18 months later, with COVID-19 still impacting our lives, the sector has realized the benefits and perhaps even sheer necessity of maintaining and further scaling their digital solutions. 

While people will eventually return to physical tourism and cultural activities, the rise of virtual and augmented reality experiences has made seeing the world much more accessible to those who would otherwise not be able to travel. The next step is to offer a hybrid of virtual and physical experiences.  

During the pandemic, consumers and visitors alike have become even more accustomed to seamless digital experiences, whether they watched their favorite tv shows or concert streamed live or signed up for digital tracing apps and vaccination passes. 

While all of us are longing to get out into the world again to travel and take part in different cultural activities, hybrid experiences that include physical, digital, and virtual elements have provided the most engaging visitor experience overall. 

Any cultural or tourism experience provider must now realize that digital is here to stay.

Digital Experts in the industry even go as far as to predict that any tourism and culture provider currently not implementing hybrid experiences may lose relevancy and visitor numbers in the future.

Who is leading the new normal? 

Kwita Izina in Rwanda; 

The 17th Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony was held virtually on September 24th worldwide and celebrated as the international gorilla day that made the event more colorful and impactful. Holding Kwita Izina on World Gorilla Day provides the opportunity to harness the global attention on gorillas on this special date and work with conservation and tourism partners around the world to highlight what Rwanda is doing to protect these majestic animals.

The ceremony is an opportunity to thank the communities that live around Volcanoes National Park, research partners, vets, and the dedicated conservationists, rangers, and trackers who protect the gorillas. Over the last 16 years, 328 mountain gorillas have been named.

The Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo in Uganda;

The 6th edition of POATE was held virtually from the 27th April to 29th April under the theme “Restarting Tourism for Regional Economic Development” and brought together all tourism stakeholders and other service providers, presenting a unique opportunity for the tourism business operators to meet new clients, network, and discuss business deals with the global tourism and travel trade partners.

The Magical Kenya Travel Expo in Kenya; 

MKTE is regionally believed to be the leading travel expo and is scheduled to virtually take place from the 5th -6th October 2021. Magical Kenya Travel Expo 2021 is expected to offer a virtual gathering of East Africa’s tourism leaders, products, global buyers, and media.

This virtual experience comes with a user-friendly appointment system between exhibitors and hosted buyers and it is a great instrumental in driving business discussions and Attendees can also participate in exciting panel discussions and gain market insights in the changed world.

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