How are Augmented Reality Apps Reshaping Travel and Tourism

Prateek Saxena June 24, 2024
AR Reshaping Travel and Tourism

If you’ve ever played Pokemon Go, tried decorating your home using the IKEA app, used those wacky Snapchat filters or tried different styles of makeup using the L’Oreal app, then you have had a brief encounter with Augmented Reality. This new technology is transforming every facet of life to a great extent.
The advent of AR has also opened doors for several industries to enrich their customer experience. According to a Statista report, the Augmented Reality market is predicted to grow from 5.91 billion to 198 billion U.S. dollars by the year 2025.


Like every industry that is leveraging the benefits of AR, the travel and tourism industry has also witnessed tremendous growth with this emerging technology. AR is playing a crucial role in transforming the tourism landscape and boosting travel experiences for tourists.

In today’s fast-paced world, travelers love the ease of searching and booking tours on the go. So, if you want to catch a travelers attention in a sea of widely varying travel applications, AR-based travel apps can come in handy by offering a unique competitive advantage.

Instead of replacing the real world elements like Virtual Reality does, AR overlays digital components over real ones to render a rich and visually appealing experience of the existing places.

The role of AR in travel apps has infinite possibilities. It has immense potential to assist and bring innovative changes to the travel and tourism industry. 

Role of AR in Travel apps

Basically what AR really does is, it alters and enhances people’s perceptions of their physical surroundings when seen through a particular device. 

Pokemon Go became the first widely popular augmented reality game. But instead of just another game, this AR application brought players out into the street and made them move and travel a lot.

Thanks to the commercial success of Pokemon Go, it became evident that the market is ready for innovation and implementation with regards to augmented reality.

AR is highly beneficial for travel app development and it is emerging as a useful tool for businesses and marketers. It allows them to transform the way customers observe their surroundings. AR-based travel apps quickly engage customers with its interactivity and render an immersive user experience.

According to a latest report, by 2021, there will be an estimated 1.96 billion mobile AR users worldwide. And by 2023, the number is estimated to grow to 2.4 billion mobile AR users worldwide. 

Mobile Augmented Reality (AR) Users Worldwide

It is safe to say that AR can offer excellent selling experiences and can be leveraged in diverse ways in the tourism industry. AR can be experienced through a smartphone, tablet or device and is far less expensive than Virtual Reality-enabled us

Types of AR Travel Applications

If you have been wondering how to integrate AR in travel apps, you can do it in one of the following ways: 

  • Location-based 

AR apps that track locations are termed as location-or position-based applications. Location-based apps rely mostly on GPS, accelerometer or digital compass data.

Pokemon Go uses GPS data to determine the user’s location and decides whether or not to show him a Pokemon.

The location-based approach to augmented reality is perfect for developing AR based city tours or navigation applications. 

  • Marker-based 

Marker-based AR technology has diverse applications. Marker-based AR or recognition based AR provides us detailed information about the object, after performing object recognition. It senses the object in front of the camera and offers on-screen information. 

Markers may be codes, physical objects or printed images. Marker-based AR technology is most commonly used in various types of AR travel applications.

Thomas Cook travel company, for example, offers digital content with a marker-based AR app, in addition to printed materials. 

  • SLAM

Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) software easily identifies objects around the user. SLAM technology makes use of complex algorithms to identify colors, patterns and other characteristics of physical objects.

 SLAM technology is the most modern one and involves smooth-running high-end hardware. 

Scope of Augmented Reality in Travel and Tourism Industry

Travel and tourism is an extensive sector, entailing aspects such as transportation, hospitality, accommodation, tourist destinations, local transit and many more. While AR technology is relatively new in the mobile app development domain, the role of augmented reality apps in tourism and travel apps is ever growing. 

The future of augmented reality in tourism looks bright and it has immense potential to transform each one of these aspects. The innovative use cases of augmented reality travel and tourism are emerging every now and then and here are certain examples of how augmented reality can be used in travel app development

Scope of AR in Travel and Tourism industry

Hotels and Accommodations

Hotels and Accommodations

Augmented Reality services offer Hotels and accommodations boundless potential to engage interactively with guests and travelers. AR empowers businesses to provide information to potential customers in an immersive manner, with 360-degree visual tours and display of 3D views. 

Providing information in an interactive manner can increase demand for bookings as customers feel more confident about the property. 

Furthermore, businesses can also improve their in-house services by enabling the guests to use AR-powered apps to navigate the property and make use of the amenities available to them. 

Travelers these days already have access to their smartphones wherever they go. By enhancing the physical environments using interactive hotel elements you can encourage customers to visit local sights. 

For instance, some hotels have an interactive wall map in rooms through which guests can explore pertinent information regarding local travel destinations with much ease.  

Augmented Tourist Destinations

Augmented Tourist Destinations

Another implication of augmented reality in tourism is interactive tours of tourist  destinations and landmarks. AR-based apps can facilitate augmented tours of ancient locations, buildings, landmarks and enable users to know more about them. Just pointing the app towards a building or landmark can present a visual of the entire history and events that happened there, thereby offering an amazing experience to the travelers and helping them learn and explore more, in real-time.

This feature of travel apps can be extended beyond just augmented reality travel destinations. For instance, a user may point their phone at a restaurant and instantly be provided with menus and reviews. Augmented destinations can allow tourists to collect information on the go about relevant points of interest and take experiences to the next level. 

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Immersive Navigation 

Augmented Reality travel apps ensure that travelers never get lost in a foreign city or in a remote location regardless of the language barriers. Instead of asking for directions, visitors can use AR-based navigation apps to easily reach their destinations. The features of travel apps features such as arrows and pointers  make it easy to follow instructions. Additionally, such apps combine the device camera with Google Maps to provide immersive navigation and make the experiences even better. 

Google Maps is an absolute pioneer in offering real-time directions. Google Maps announced their new development in April 2018 using Augmented Reality to facilitate spatial orientation.This Augmented Reality app combines real-time street view with navigation tips and additional information that travelers might need.

Local Transit 

Local Transit

AR is significantly improving local transit. Even in foreign locations things become so much more easy and secure with AR based travel apps, that provide interactive map views of roads, traffic, destinations and best places to travel in the city. Besides using such apps when traveling by cabs, tourists can also use them when traveling by public transportation.

In addition, AR apps may eliminate the need for tourist guides in the future as every pertinent information that a traveler needs will be available on their smartphone. Infact, with AR a metro map can be transformed into an engaging augmented reality travel guide, that too, in a multitude of languages.

Beacon Technology and Push Notifications

Beacon Technology and Push Notifications

Another fascinating use of augmented reality involves the application of beacons, which operates through Bluetooth. In the travel and tourism sector, this particular technology is extremely useful since it allows businesses and marketers to send push notifications or activate certain functions when people enter a specific location.

One of the best examples for the use of this technology is Starwood Hotels.They use beacons to allow customers to unlock their hotel rooms when they are within close proximity to the door. It can also be used to send users maps, reviews, menus, special deals or discount vouchers when needed. 

Augmented Reality Gamification

Augmented reality has often been used in the gaming world but now even the travel industry is beginning to take advantage of this and rightfully so. A hotel or a hospitality company may enhance their customer experience by incorporating an element of fun into their physical environment with the use of an augmented reality tourism app.

For instance, Best Western uses AR to allow children to see Disney characters in their premises. For adults AR apps can enable users to redecorate rooms and customise it as per their liking. 

Augmented Reality eliminating Language Differences

It is enticing to travel to a foreign destination but quite difficult without having a translator to guide you. Reading signs, menus and other information becomes a difficult task in a foreign land. However, with AR technology, smartphones can be utilized to translate a number of foreign languages. Such apps translate objects and text using augmented reality and render an immersive, engaging experience to travelers around the world.

AR for City Tours

A major benefit of augmented reality is the capacity to enhance or alter the view of the world around. Tourists can learn more with AR apps and view the current architectural artifacts in detail. 

Augmented reality applications can show how the area around the landmark looked in the past and restore historical events. It can also transfer the traveler to the future, demonstrating buildings that are only planned today.

One of the best examples of augmented reality in travel and tourism is the Paris, Then and Now app, which takes a traveler back in time to the Paris of the 20th century providing unforgettable insights and a unique experience altogether. 

AR for Museums

AR for Museums

All thanks to augmented reality opening up newer avenues, museums are no longer a boring place. Through AR travelers can easily learn how different technical devices worked, how prehistoric animals looked and explore more about how masterpieces were created in an engaging manner. 

For instance, there is an application named Story of the Forest created by the National Museum of Singapore which is quite similar to Pokemon Go. With the help of this AR app, visitors can search for different plants and animals. Users not only get entertained but also learn about where different plants grow and where certain animals live.

Importance of Augmented Reality in the Travel Industry

Now that we have discussed in detail the role of AR in travel and tourism apps, let’s dive in to see how augmented reality is beneficial for travel app development . 

Today, apps have become a travelers’ best companion and besides solving several pain points, AR-based travel apps help businesses by enhancing their services and offering personalized experiences to their customers. The possibilities that AR opens up are endless.

Importance of AR in the travel industry

Easy access to information

Tourism is a thriving industry. It allows people to open up to new experiences,explore new destinations and appreciate cultures other than their own. By leveraging the power of augmented reality, you can choose your destinations and experiences in a much more enriching manner. 

AR can be accessed through mobile devices which makes access to information portable and simple. For example, you can find information and reviews of nearby locations, locate Wi-Fi hotspots and even check a weather forecast in real time.

Better Marketing and Advertising

AR-based advertising and marketing has the potential to drive travelers ‘ decisions since they are able to visualize properties and services much more interactively. AR technology empowers travel companies to provide unique and imaginative narratives, with virtual tours that render the app users almost lifelike experiences. Besides influencing booking decisions, marketing strategies focused on AR boost trust and can convert first-time guests into loyal customers.

Infact, Expedia has reported that the interactive content from travel brands influences over 78 percent of traveler’s decisions.

Enhanced convenience and comfort

Timely availability of on- the-go information can make all the difference to the experiences of travelers and that is something that mobile apps make happen. AR-based tourist apps help travelers find the way through arrows and other navigation-related signs into an unfamiliar city. An AR app acts as a 24*7 guide and helps eliminate language barriers for international users.

It enhances users’ convenience and comfort right from booking tickets and hotels to finding the best destinations for eating, drinks, shopping, and exploring popular tourist destinations.

Makes tourist places more attractive

AR technology allows travel app developers to incorporate 3D models of places and landmarks of historical significance. Users can have an immersive experience and enjoy  journeying through time. AR technology is doing wonders in making theme parks and zoos more appealing to visitors. Combining art and science with culture and architecture, the groundbreaking AR technology can make any tourist spot more attractive than ever. 

Augmented reality has the power to strengthen the four pillars of the tourism industry: 

Transportation– Guide visitors to various routes available in an unknown city. Accommodation– Provide information about reviews and other important aspects of hotels. 

Catering– Inform travelers about the types of food available at different restaurants.

Tourist spots– Ensure that tourist destinations are more attractive with an enhanced 3D experience. 


The importance of augmented reality in the travel industry can’t be stressed enough. The potential of AR is enormous to the point that it can help you unravel completely new business opportunities. Travel industry is usually selling experiences and AR not only solves an array of pain points but also provides an enhanced travel experience. AR is capable of expanding the customer base of hotels, booking services, local restaurants, and all other stakeholders in the industry. We hope that this article has helped you understand why is Augmented Reality the future of travel industry and how is augmented reality used in tourism app development.

As a leading travel and tourism app development company, we suggest integrating AR in your travel app solutions. It can take your business to the next level. Besides knowing the AR technology inside out, we have a rich domain expertise in the travel industry and can build custom mobile app solutions for your business.

Prateek Saxena
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