The future of the travel and tourism industry will be shaped by a range of disruptive themes, with virtual reality (VR) being one of the themes that will have a significant impact on airport companies.     A detailed analysis of the theme, insights into the leading companies, and their thematic and valuation scorecards are included in GlobalData’s thematic research report,Virtual Reality (VR) in Travel & Tourism Industry (2021) – Thematic Research.  Buy the report here.

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VR is a technology that immerses the user in an entirely artificial world, which has the illusion of reality. The market remains heavily gaming-oriented, but VR is gaining traction in areas such as social media and live streaming. Consumer-focused VR companies are striving for a semi-mythical killer app that would make VR a mainstream hit. Meanwhile, VR headset makers are increasingly exploring growth among enterprises. 


In the past, VR was perceived as a gimmick within the travel and tourism industry, but a combination of technological advancements and macroeconomic impacts (such as Covid-19) have meant that VR is now becoming an important part of marketing strategies, the experience economy, employee training, and sustainability. The technology will continue to lose its reputation as a gimmick as younger generations that are more familiar with this technology (such as Gen Z) continue to grow in importance as a consumer segment. 

However, not all companies are equal when it comes to their capabilities and investments in the key themes that matter most to their industry. Understanding how companies are positioned and ranked in the most important themes can be a key leading indicator of their future earnings potential and relative competitive position.      

According to GlobalData’s thematic research report, Virtual Reality in Travel and Tourism, leading adopters include: Dubai Airports Company, Royal Schiphol Group, Los Angeles World Airports, Fraport, Shanghai International Airport and Sydney Airport Holdings. 

Insights from top ranked companies     


In 2019, Fraport and AeroGround Flughafen München developed a joint virtual reality (VR) training tool for ground handling operations. Additionally, the multimedia Fraport Visitor Center opened at Frankfurt Airport in 2021. The centre uses advanced forms of technology to create immersive and interactive experiences for visitors. One specific exhibit focuses on virtual reality, where visitors ride through the airport’s baggage handling system to understand and experience the diverse and highly complex operations that take place at the airport. 

Los Angeles World Airports  

Los Angeles World Airports announced a virtual 360-degree tour of LAX during the pandemic. The apparent ‘first-of-its-kind’ virtual airfield tour provides a vivid recreation of a real-life tour for communities, students, and airport or aviation enthusiasts from around the world. Virtual reality also played a key role in the design of the Los Angeles International Airport Midfield Satellite Concourse North Gates project. Key design decisions involving the ramp control tower, end-user sightlines, and vertical circulation conveyance of elevators and escalators were all planned and tested using VR as the key medium. 

Shanghai International Airport 

At Shanghai Pudong International Airport, a ground traffic-monitoring system involving IoT, big data, and virtual reality technologies was launched. The three-dimensional traffic command platform can oversee the operations of passengers’ cars, taxis, and buses to or from the airport to prevent congestion. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the travel and tourism industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Virtual Reality in Travel and Tourism

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

GlobalData’s Thematic Scorecard ranks companies within a sector based on their overall leadership in the 10 themes that matter most to their industry, generating a leading indicator of their future earnings and relative position within key strategic areas.