Emerging technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), have been influencing both the tourism supply side and tourists alike. The purpose of this study is to analyse VR research in tourism and to provide a comprehensive state-of-the-art review. As the technological connotation of the term VR has been changing and encompasses various VR systems with different capabilities, this paper aims to provide a systematic and structured overview. The overall objective of this paper is to contribute to a thorough understanding of VR research in tourism.
This paper comprehensively reviews and analyses existing literature on VR in tourism, published from 1994 to February 2018. Using a wide variety of sources, these papers were examined so as to give a state-of-the-art literature review and to deepen one’s understanding of the diverse applications of VR in a tourism context. This paper also presents a novel classification of different VR systems according to the level of immersion and depicts their respective technological capabilities.
The advent of new VR hardware necessitates a distinction for different VR systems applied in the tourism sector. Research conducted during the past three years has been focussing on the application of head-mounted displays, which reflects the temporal development of VR technology. Regardless of the VR system, most studies examine VR as a marketing tool for promotion and communication purposes during the pre-travel phase, focussing on behavioural aspects. Advances in technology will yield new opportunities and application possibilities for the tourism industry.
The key contribution of this paper lies in its structural approach, which differentiates between non-, semi- and fully immersive VR systems in tourism, as well as the proposition of respective definitions. The concluding part of the paper proposes practical implications for tourism businesses together with directions for future studies.
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