Virtual and real travel

As it becomes ever easier to transport ourselves virtually into places other than where we are, what will that mean for travel?

Specifically, if you and I can put on a pair of glasses and find ourselves transported to, say, a bustling street in Rome, or the atrium of the Taj Mahal, what impact will that have on people’s choices for physical travel to far off places?

One possibility is that people will chose to stay at home and travel virtually, and travel will decrease. The opposite possibility is that visiting somewhere virtually will serve to whet our appetite for the real thing, and travel will increase.

We have been here before. With the rise of the internet (today is the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web going public), pundits predicted that travel would decrease. In fact, the opposite happened.

As people had more immediate access to information about far off places, people began to fly more often. In fact, there is a strong correlation between increased use of the internet and the corresponding rise in air travel.

Let’s see if the same thing happens this time.

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