There is a Japanese businessman, Katsuo Inoue, which this year has chosen Italy for its summer holidays. A nice business class flight with all the necessary comforts and then the beauties of Rome and Florence. All without leaving Tokyo.
56-year-old Inoue and his wife “flew” as customers of the entertainment company Tokyo First Airlines, which has perhaps seriously opened up a market (however already existing) of virtual reality travel. Virtual vacation is a growing market for Japanese tourists, driven by coronavirus restrictions.
"I often travel abroad for work, but have never been to Italy," the businessman told Reuters. “My impression was pretty good because thanks to virtual reality I had the feeling of actually seeing things there. "
Virtual holidays: you "fly"
Travelers who, needless to say, remain on the ground all the time, sit in first-class or business-class seats in a mock airline cabin. As with any airline, meals and beverages are served during the flight, with screens showing exterior views of the plane "in flight", including passing clouds.
The virtual reality visors supplied offer engaging tours to destinations including, in addition to our Italian cities of culture, Paris, New York, and even Hawaii.
Coronavirus has stopped most trips from Japan. The country's largest airline, ANA Holdings, said the number of flights to foreign destinations with its planes has decreased 96% in June. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has gone further. Last month he predicted that it will take at least another 4 years, until 2024, to recover the number of global passengers.
Tokyo First Airlines: Buckle up, stay on the ground
At First Airlines they have no booking problems, as you can imagine. “Passengers” are even offered a pre-flight safety demonstration with a life jacket and oxygen mask. Bookings have increased by around 50% since the start of the pandemic.
Japan registered over 50.000 coronavirus cases, with just over a thousand deaths, according to public broadcaster NHK. A second wave of infections that began to accelerate in July cooled expectations for a resumption of internal travel. Except, apparently, virtual reality travel.
"Our customers can experience sensations, travel experiences and destinations, waiting to be able to travel again", says the president, Hiroaki Abe.