Pioneering Virtual-Reality Tourism in Egypt’s Protected Areas
A new age of digital innovation is transforming the tourism industry. With global tourism massively disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual reality (VR) tourism offers people around the world a chance to escape isolation.
Imagine teleporting across Egypt’s untouched wilderness and seamlessly exploring beautiful protected natural areas — from vast desert plains to the towering mountaintops of St. Katherine, ECO EGYPT’s new VR campaign is making virtual tourism a reality.
ECO EGYPT is a nationwide VR tourism campaign led by Egypt’s Ministry of Environment, funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by UNDP with the National Bank of Egypt as strategic partner.
The VR tourism campaign aims to take travelers on journeys of discovery through some of Egypt’s most remarkable and diverse protected areas.
ECO EGYPT has launched twelve VR tours in a bid to promote ecotourism inside Egyptian protected areas. The tours cover seven different areas, including Wadi El Gemal, Wadi El Rayan, St. Katherine, the Sannur Cave, Taba, the White Desert, and El Wahat El Bahariya.
Applying our expertise in the areas of biodiversity, protected areas and eco-tourism, UNDP has been working closely with the Ministry of Environment to upgrade the PAs to become world class ecotourism sites.
With the decline in tourism due to the pandemic, UNDP has developed the VR tours to bring Egypt’s unique sites to tourists without them needing to travel to these sites.
ECO EGYPT has organized a number of events on the ground to encourage the public to explore these destinations while also educating them about Egypt’s natural and cultural heritage.
The integration of VR tours and 360° technologies is crucial for the digitalization of the ecotourism industry and for making travel experiences more accessible, ensuring no one is left behind.
Users can now immerse themselves in spectacular natural landscapes with endless opportunities for exploration and discovery, all from the comfort of their own homes.
“The whole experience was totally immersive! I got to discover some of Egypt’s protected areas in a completely new way. It makes me feel proud that Egypt has these exciting tech initiatives that bring us closer to our natural and cultural heritage.” — Anonymous User
The use of VR technology has been proven to influence and impact consumer behavior and trends. ECO EGYPT is keen not only to create vivid simulations of experiences in protected areas, but to also encourage travel and exploration in these destinations.
According to Ralph Hollister, a renowned Tourism Analyst at Global Data, the rise of VR is “a watershed moment for technology, potentially leading to more sustainable tourism”. The use of seamless technology could also help reduce the impacts of mass tourism on sensitive ecological and cultural sites.
The use of VR simulations will increase the attractiveness of these destinations and have a positive long-term impact on conservation efforts and the enhancement of local livelihoods.
The ECO EGYPT VR include detailed information in both English and Arabic on natural and culture features, thereby raising awareness about nature conservation and inform the public about Egypt’s lesser-known protected areas.
Access to the VR tours can be found on the ECO EGYPT website. The tours are compatible with VR headsets and smartphones and can be viewed in 360°.
Immerse yourself in ECO EGYPT’s VR tours and discover some of Egypt’s hidden natural wonders.
* ECO EGYPT is part of the project for Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Egypt’s Tourism. This project is being implemented by the Environmental Affairs Agency in cooperation with UNDP and funded by the Global Environment Facility.
Written by: The Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Egypt’s Tourism Project Team