The tourism industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 health crisis. There has been continued widespread economic impacts of the need for social distancing and the numbers of travelers both international and domestic are a small percentage of what they were just a year ago. To help recover from this situation new solutions and innovative ideas will be needed and utilized correctly. That is why the World Tourism Organization started the Healing Solutions for Tourism Challenge in March of 2020. The challenge consists of a global call to reach the most disruptive startups, entrepreneurs, innovators and existing technologies to mitigate Covid-19 impacts on tourism through health, economic and destination recovery solutions. It is intended to be a step forward for Sustainable Development in a crisis situation, providing support to travelers, businesses and authorities.
Associate Professor Eric Hawkinson of the Department of Global Tourism was one of the 5 finalists selected from the Asia Region and has been recognized as a top innovator in digital solutions for the tourism industry moving to the future. His project, called ARientation, is an augmented reality platform for learning and engagement. ARientation is an immersive learning platform that is free, easy to use, and doesn't look to take all your data. It's designed to be a simple, fast and easy way to create augmented environments for teaching and learning. Eric started the project in 2015 as a part of his continued research and development in immersive learning environments. Since then the project has been deployed in various community projects, universities, K12 schools, and tourism destinations around Asia and the world. Eric hopes to use the project as a way to promote ideas of data collection and privacy as augmented and virtual reality get even more aggressive in collecting personal information.