Virtual tours make it possible with an aim to let people confined in their homes explore the country


Travelling is a way to find peace of mind and other benefits, but with travel restrictions imposed due to lockdown and COVID-19 risks, we have not been able to go anywhere. Many of us are even unaware about how our nearby places look like these days. If you are the one who loves travelling but can’t due to the current situation, get ready to travel virtually.

It might not provide you an experience exactly like a real visit to the place but virtual tours are sure to provide you some level of refreshment.

Sarthak Karki, freelance photographer and filmmaker, feels one gets refreshed seeing a beautiful picture, but videos would provide you with a little more detailed experience than still photographs.

“It is obvious you would not get the real experience with virtual pictures and videos, but at a time when you are not able to go anywhere, you can at least experience something via the virtual medium,” he says sharing why virtual tours should be considered.

He has been one of the persons offering such virtual visits.

He has made a video reflecting the situation of Kathmandu during the lockdown, which is featured on the website of Nepal Eighth Wonder, a travel and tourism promotion company in Nepal.

The video has been getting positive responses from the national and international audience. Some people have found the video informative, while others have appreciated his effort at making the video.

“The state of Kathmandu has become different from what it was before the lockdown.

So, I made the video to reflect the City during the lockdown and it is also a kind of documentation. Plus, the video has also become helpful in letting people know the situation around the City as many are not able to venture outside because of the lockdown,” shares Karki.

After getting a positive response from public, he made another video of Patan on a similar theme.

Apart from casual virtual tours, StoryCycle has been doing online guided Virtual Heritage Tour (VHT) during the lockdown.

“We had never organised virtual tours before, however, we used to create other virtual contents. So, with available and accessible contents such as 360-degree, Google map, photos et cetera, we organised our first VHT of the Bagmati Promenade on the occasion of World Heritage Day. After getting a positive response from the public, we have started doing other virtual tours too,” informs Saurav Dhakal, Founder and Curator of StoryCycle.

They also organised a VHT of Barpak in memory of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti, and Everest on the occasion of International Everest Day, while the VHTs of Dhe and Saipal on June 19 and July 10 respectively are on their schedules.

As per Dhakal, one can register on StoryCycle’s website to join in the live VHT sessions while you can also watch the live video through Facebook live.

One of the participants of the Virtual Heritage Tour is Smrittee Panta. After exploring Lumbini virtually, she shares the tour has been advantageous for her as she has come to know various vital information regarding the place.

She adds, “This kind of virtual tour, especially conducted by scholar like Anil Chitrakar is very worthwhile. As domestic travellers, we often travel to different places in the country for the sake of travelling and without adequate information.

This, as a result, we barely know about the places we visit.”

Panta continues, “I had visited Lumbini several times before the lockdown, but only with little knowledge about the place. By taking the virtual tour, I have come to know valuable information. I believe I will have a different experience on my next visit to Lumbini.”

Explaining her experience, she adds, “For instance, how we look at a tree with only a name, and how we look at it after knowing its importance will be a completely different experience. Moreover, the virtual tour can also be a good medium to materialise the current theme of tourism sector ‘Dream Now, Travel Later’.

I feel that the chances of people visiting a particular place would increase if they know about the place.”

However, she feels the virtual tour could have been made better with the use of different available technologies so that the audience would get to realise a more realistic experience. Panta also opines the virtual tour would be lively if at least one person physically visits the site and does a live telecast from there.

Dhakal agrees that the virtual tours can be done in a better way with the use of technical intervention, but that would require more investment. Stating that the virtual contents and virtual tours are more useful for the country’s tourism sector, he suggests the country’s tourism sector to be more prepared digitally.

“Creating local digital contents are not only useful to attract foreign tourists but also important for ourselves as many of us do not even know the stories of our places,” he shares.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 15, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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