The pandemic and the related lockdown has hit the world economy with the force of a battering ram. Tourism was one of the industries that was hit the hardest. And yet, it was this area that had the chance to survive the crisis. All this is due to the possibilities offered by new media and virtual worlds created in networks. Małopolska is well suited to this still fledgling trend.
– Both travellers deprived of their freedom of action as well as tourism companies in decline that have been weakened by the pandemic may switch to virtual tours – the scientific journal “Patterns” commented on the pandemic situation last year. While digital travel will never replace reality, at least until the all-sensory interface is invented, it has become a chance for tourism companies to survive during the lockdown. It was quickly noticed that online virtual tours and cultural-tourist events can also become an excellent form of promotion, which will result in tourist traffic after the restrictions are lifted. This was the assumption of Guðrið Højgaard, director of the Visit Faroe Islands project, which enables a virtual tour of the Faroe Islands. – We believe our remote islands are the perfect place to inspire people in quarantine – he said. – Of course, we hope to welcome them in person when they can all travel again.
Małopolska is not lagging behind global trends, as from the beginning of the pandemic, it has been carrying out activities aimed at increasing the attractiveness of the region through interactive audio-visual materials, including virtual exhibitions, walks and tours.
All the king’s tapestries
Just a day after the opening of the largest ever exhibition of 137 royal tapestries in Poland, a lockdown was announced and the exhibition was closed. Fortunately, a group of museologists prepared a technologically advanced virtual tour. It opened on April 9 this year. – With a virtual tour, visitors will not only cross the threshold of Wawel, but also the border of the showcases. This is a truly unique event, the only opportunity to experience the exhibits at your fingertips. We show literally everything, counting on the fact that in the future you would like to see the treasure of the last Jagiellonian with your own eyes – encouraged prof. Andrzej Betlej, director of the Wawel Royal Castle.
– When sightseeing is not possible for some reason, there are ways to get to know an attraction better – sometimes even more in-depth than during traditional trips – writes the portal visitmalopolska.pl on its website. Thanks to virtual walks available at spacery.visitmalopolska.pl, you can visit over 130 attractions during 16 different walks. Video panoramas were created at the widest possible angle of 360°, which allows you to feel the authentic atmosphere of the places. 11 walks were made in 3D and 2D technology (3D for presentation using VR goggles and 2D for presentation on the regional tourist portal visitmalopolska.pl and the VisitMałopolska application), and five more in 2D technology (intended for presentation on the regional tourist portal visitmalopolska.pl and in the VisitMałopolska mobile application). – This is a good way to get to know the region prior to the trip, as well as reminisce and learn more about what we already know – write the creators.
Many cultural institutions launched online holdings even before the pandemic in addition to their otherwise rich offer.The Wawel Royal Castle offers a virtual tour of the Lanckoroński Collections and the Castle’s halls. The Museum of Kraków’s collections goes online.The MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków encourages you to listen to lectures available on YouTube.On the other hand, the National Museum in Kraków not only enables virtual tours of the five branches of the Museum (Main Building, Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace, Jan Matejko House, Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum with the Józef Czapski Pavilion, Karol Szymanowski Museum in Villa “Atma”),but also makes available online over 130 000 works from its collection!
The Małopolska’s Virtual Museums also have an extremely interesting offer – an initiative of the Regionalna Pracownia Digitalizacji Małopolskiego Instytutu Kultury (Regional Digitization Laboratory of the Małopolska Institute of Culture) in Kraków. – As part of several EU and ministerial projects, we have digitized 2557 exhibits from 48 museums in Małopolska – inform the authors. – The most photos for one projects – 2785 – were taken during the digitization of the Wawel heads. Our photos and models are very accurate. You can easily see the details of old jeweller and embroidery or Palaeolithic tools up close; you will see brush strokes on the paintings or the canvas and weft in historic tapestries and Wawel Arrasses, which we have recorded with an accuracy of 0.2 mm.
See online and visit
All online resources are not only an attractive replacement during the pandemic, but also a great incentive to return to the trail and see all the digitized attractions with your own eyes in the real world. Virtual tours and walks are now a valuable supplement to the regular offer, and can neatly complement it, especially in case of people with disabilities, who may have physical difficulties in accessing some attractions.
– After the COVID-19 pandemic and the related orders of social isolation, we will somewhat “inherit” travel digitization. This does not mean, of course, a complete replacement of a real trip with one that is carried out only with the help of technology – it does not meet the basic needs underlying tourism. However, it should be expected that virtual sightseeing, including the use of VR tools, will become more and more popular. The element that will bind the digital and real world will be many tools enriching the holiday experience, and at the same time, allowing for full individualization of sightseeing. From virtual guides, through self-service city games, to sightseeing supported by augmented reality technology – sums up Jacek Cieślewicz in the study “A prescription for tourism”.