Title: Exploring VR experiences of tourists' attachment to a rural destination

Authors: Christos Pantelidis

Addresses: Department of Operations, Technology, Events and Hospitality Management, Faculty of Business and Law, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester M15 6BH, UK

Abstract: In tourism, virtual reality (VR) experience has gained interest. A positive tourist experience might enhance place attachment (PA) which can be described as the emotional bond between people and places. PA research is applied in physical and social environments but studies in a VR context are limited. Therefore, this study aims to explore to what extent VR experience might have an impact on tourists' experience and attachment to a rural destination. For this purpose, semi-structured interviews were conducted at the Lake District National Park. The sample included repeat tourists. Results show great potential of VR to have a positive impact on tourist experience and attachment. 'Presence' and 'Accessibility' have emerged as themes. 'Accessibility' is perceived as new in the context of PA. Thus, this study proposes to consider virtual environments within PA theory. Managerial implications include the use of VR as a tool to increase tourist experience at the destination.

Keywords: virtual reality; virtual experience; rural destination; place attachment; rurality; accessibility; presence; immersive experience; virtual environment; rural tourism; Lake District National Park.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTMKT.2019.104602

International Journal of Technology Marketing, 2019 Vol.13 No.3/4, pp.376 - 400

Received: 01 Dec 2018
Accepted: 23 Apr 2019

Published online: 21 Jan 2020 *

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