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During the past few years, international travel has been growing and the number of traveling passengers have been increasing! And for the next 5 years it is expected that in front of the entire tourism industry (including airports, carriers, travel agencies, hotels and restaurants) serious challenges will be faced. Therefore, everyone involved in tourism has been gradually preparing to involve new and innovative products and services such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things technology (IoT), big data (Big data) and NFC (near field communication).

Are you ready to find out what innovative services the tourism industry will offer you?

Everything has been going according to the plan! More and more people gained access to Internet and modern smartphones, tablets, laptops and all kinds of mobile devices, and this certainly facilitates the difficult process of organizing a trip. Checking luggage through an application, tracking traffic and choosing alternative routes, virtual tours – these were the expectations for innovation in the tourism industry.

But somehow those expectations changed dramatically in early 2020, when the world was gripped into a pandemic situation and a number of countries took serious measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Undoubtedly, the entire tourism industry suffered severely, and the plans were quickly redesigned, and each affected sector of the industry had to contend with new challenges.

But I’m not going to tell you what these difficulties are – we all know what they are!

Today I want to tell you about some very bold and innovative solutions that help both the tourism industry and all travelers and tourists eager for new emotions and adventures around the world!

It is clear to everyone that in the next few years it will be difficult for us to visit the impressive ice hotels in Sweden or to take a walk in the park with antelopes in Africa. We are aware that our trips will be limited to reading travel blogs (I hope you visit mine regularly and read it) or watching YouTube channels of the vloggers. Or we will make virtual tours of the sites – in short, we will travel virtually! Not bad, this is a temporary substitute and solution, and these things are definitely a good start, but it doesn’t have to be like that forever, because depriving a traveler of travel is like locking a bird in a cage!

Are you ready to get started?

Whether because there was a need of new services in the industry, or because the whole situation with the pandemic necessitated it or even a combination of the two, here are some interesting and innovative services that have emerged in the last few months 🙂

Virtual tours with remote control

Each of us will go crazy if he is locked up at home! Do you miss traveling? These and many more issues encourage local tourism and technology companies to promote and preserve tourism in the Faroe Islands in Denmark. They have devised a way to allow people from around the world to go on a solo tour of the archipelago. Locals carrying cameras roam tourist attractions and respond to remarkable commands given from other people who are staying at their homes (in other words allowing virtual tourists to control their own route via remote control).

Even in London by using an application on your smart device (phone,tablet) you can take a walk among these amazing places!

These virtual visitors “control” their guide with the help of a free application and have two minutes of “control” over the driver, during which they can also communicate. After their two minutes have passed, it’s the turn of another guide, although virtual tourists can join the queue and wait for another two minutes as many times as they want. Tours are available daily for one hour at either 14:00 or 17:00 Danish time. Guides can be kayaking, horseback riding or walking in the mountain villages.

These remote North Atlantic Islands are heavily dependent on tourism to increase traditional crafts such as fishing and sheep farming, and this year the Faroe Islands planned to increase tourism with two new hotels and more than 200 new rooms in the capital, Torshavn. Although the pandemic and measures taken in order to prevent the Corona virus from spreading even more have thwarted these ambitious plans. But local tour operators keep hoping that the virtual tourism app will encourage people to visit them in the future.

No digital devices in the hotel! Seriously?

Yes – you read that right! Хотел The Marriott Renessance Hotel in Pittsburgh (USA) offers a completely new service where there are no digital devices and internet, forcing its guests to leave all their electronics at a safe upon arrival and keep it locked up until they leave the hotel. What is innovative about that, you think? How many times have you been constantly rummaging on your phone and spending hours on social media or working while reading your work email while on vacation? If you’re going to spend hours in the virtual world, why go on vacation at all? Here you can completely break away from your everyday life and forget about everything and everyone! After all, that’s why we go on vacation – to enjoy the tranquility by the pool, to have a drink at the hotel lobby and to eat delicious and different food.

At such a place I would not use any equipment too!

Restaurant in a hotel room

Well known fact is that many of the hotels remained either closed or empty. It is sad to see some of the most beautiful and modern hotels empty as if they are ghost buildings. But the Swedish hotel Stadt in Lidköping took great advantage of the situation and managed to turn the empty hotel rooms into a restaurant. Some of the rooms have been converted into a dining room, so those wishing to use the restaurant services are accommodated in a private room and can enjoy privacy and feel safe, given the pandemic situation. I even wish I could go there. Imagine that you can have both – to be at a restaurant and to feel safe at the same time. 🙂

Imaginary resorts

A few months ago, one of the most influential and world-famous magazines for architecture and design – Dezeen, offered its readers to visit the resort Casa Plenaire. And yes – if you try to find it on a map you will not find it , because it is an imaginary resort and with the help of Child Studio (architectural office) in collaboration with Plenaire (cosmetics company) it was was created as an amazing seaside villa for the “perfect vacation”.

Although with only just a few posts on Instagram the project is gained wide popularity!

Designed as a “hiding place from the locked world”, Casa Plenaire is viewed through a series of visualizations that everyone dreams of, created with the help of 3D modeling programs. The project is named after the skin care brand Plenaire, which until recently worked with Child Studio to develop the interior of its upcoming store in London. As the crisis with the Corona virus worsened and many people were forced to stay in their homes, the two parties decided to cooperate and create a fictitious space that can be visited via Instagram and thus show their customers that again, you should not give up your plans and dreams for a perfect vacation.

“Casa Plenaire was created to evoke memories of a perfect holiday,” said project authors Che Huang and Alexi Kos.

Food served on the plane – now at home

As part of policies to recover lost profits and preserve their income in some way, a number of Asian airlines offered quite original and innovative service. The food they used to serve during their flights can now be delivered to people’s homes in the form of catering. Thai Airways, Air Asia, Garuda and Cathay Pacific are some of the companies that became involved in this innovation during the Corona virus pandemic. Customers who have flown with them until recently, but are currently unable to do so, can now purchase a range of dishes at prices ranging from around € 3.37 to € 7.80. This service is provided both to current customers and to those who have never used their services. Dishes include quiche, shrimp, lamb chops, beef and rice.

Well, even if you are not travelling on a plane, you can still imagine having your meal in the air 🙂

Santan, AirAsia’s catering partner, opened two restaurants in Kuala Lumpur in December 2019, allowing customers in the city to find their favorite food from the flights, even when they are not actually flying. Now I remember how I miss some of the menus of Qatar Airlines 🙂

Intuitive lighting instead of subway signs

Moscow is famous for its metro and its “underground palaces”. Some of the Moscow’s metro stations were built during Stalin’s time and were designed to demonstrate the greatness of the Russian state, and many are decorated with marble columns and floors, chandeliers, ornate mosaics and statues. Like any multimillion-dollar city, Moscow is growing, as is its metro network. One of the new metro stations, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), aims to impress not with marble, but with an intuitive layout and navigation aids. 

The lights on the ceiling and the floor will guide passengers in the new metro station of the Moscow metro

The new station – Klenoviy Boulevard, is expected to be a transfer one on the two new metro lines – the Bolshaya Koltsevaya metro orbital line and the future Biryulevskaya line, which connects the Kuryanovo and Biryulyovo districts directly with the city center. The station will include some columns that are shaped to “express specimens of the same shape which is slightly distorted as it moves.” Slight variations in the shape of each column act as arrows that warn passengers about their distance from the center of the platform. The design also includes light lines on the ceiling and floors, which act as a guide for passengers where to head when entering or leaving the station. At the end of the platform, instead of a boundary line, there is lighting, which tells passengers that they should not cross this line. And when the train approaches the platform, the lights start flashing and warning the passengers about that. 

As a train approaches, lights on the platform and the ceiling will start flashing to warn passengers that trains are entering the station and should not stand at the end of the platform.

ZHA won the contract for the design of the station after an international competition, and the construction of the station is expected to be completed within 3 years. The idea is to show passengers through innovative lighting that they can easily navigate even without maps, signs or diagrams.

Yes – in Sofia years ago there was a similar competition for a metro station in Druzhba, but I guess that we are not so innovative, unfortunately 🙂

Many travelers around the world will remember 2020 mainly as the year of the the Corona virus and the both facts that many of them were forced to stay at home and not allowed travel. We all suffered in general. Because that we could not travel, the tourism industry suffered unprecedented damage. The fact is that a lot of financial and mental damage has been done to everyone.

But, in the end, tourism will survive thanks to creative and bold innovative solutions being created and designe. Some of them seek to help communities that rely on tourism by presenting virtual experiences; some aim to make our travels and experiences safer, others hope to maintain a positive impact not only on their financial situation, but also to maintain a positive impact on the environment. One thing is for sure – the world will never be the same again because most of the innovations are ahead of their time and from now on they will increasingly enter every part of our lives. It remains to be seen what new things the human imagination will invent, because sometimes even the craziest idea could prove to be profitable 🙂

This post is also available in: Български (Bulgarian)

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