Zoom enables virtual guided tours

YANGON, 21 January 2021: Exploration Travel Myanmar has announced a new tour that visits the Unesco World heritage temples of Bagan virtually of course.

In the first week of operation, the company says it has sold several tours to clients from tour operators in Germany and the Netherlands and is planning to expand to other tour operators worldwide and other locations in Myanmar.

According to Exploration’s Managing Director, Edwin Briels, the main reason to launch these virtual tours is to “create jobs and income for Bagan based tourist guides who have been deprived of any income for since March last year.

Overseas tour operators can book a private tour in Bagan that lasts about 45 minutes, using Zoom software. The guide has a camera with stabiliser, an electric bike and a mobile phone connection and takes the clients along a predetermined route explaining the history of Bagan, the lifestyles in villages while showing some of the highlighted temples such as Ananda and the Dhammayangyi temple.

During the tour, clients can interact with the guide and request specific camera in various directions. In much the same way as an in-person tour, they can ask questions while the private guide acts as their eyes and ears on the ground.

Briels said clients could ask family members or friends to join the tour from the comfort of their own home. The service is limited to a group of no more than 10 persons. 

“We have also received requests from clients who visited Bagan in the past and want to re-visit with the same guide so they can also show their family members what they experienced pre-Covid times.”

See a short video of Exploration’s virtual Bagan tour on YouTube

The company has been restructuring and is actively adapting to the new normal since the Myanmar government closed international airports in April 2020.

After the first Covid-19 wave, the company took over Grasshopper Adventures Myanmar aiming to offer more nature experiences, cycling biking, trekking and kayaking tours.

It also re-focused on the local Myanmar and expatriates market in Yangon and created new experiences within Yangon. Recently the company re-opened its Lalay Lodge in Ngapali beach after successfully passing the Myanmar government Covid-19 safety regulations.

Exploration Travel is the first DMC in Myanmar offer virtual tours after having seen the success of similar ventures in Singapore and from the start-up www.virtualtrips.io which recently gained funding.

“Just as with our physical tours on the ground, we wanted to make the virtual tours more personalised and therefore we opted for this version for individual clients giving the possibility to ask questions and interact,” said Briels.

“It won’t be the same as physical touring in Bagan but can be used now and in the future to get a sense for an area to prepare for when international travel starts again,” he said.

It could find a place permanently in a nation’s promotional tour kit and may eventually extend the scope of traditional media and fam trips by include media and travel agencies that cannot spare staff for in-person hosted trips to join a ‘zoom’ cut-down version. Clients who can’t physically travel due to health, family or financial restrictions would be candidates for virtual tours and in the case of Myanmar, there are areas that are currently restricted for foreigner visitors such as the temples of Mrauk U in northern Rakhine state that could be featured.

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