Manchanda, M., & Deb, M. (2021). Effects of multisensory virtual reality on virtual and physical tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. Current Issues in Tourism.


This study draws on the theory of total immersion and risk theory to examine how multisensory virtual reality (MVR) impacts tourists’ intention to visit a destination during COVID-19, as well as their destination loyalty and horizontal loyalty. To test the conceptual model, we capture the perceptions of 484 virtual tourism enthusiasts, and use these responses to construct a structural equation model via SPSS and AMOS 21. Departing from previous research, the findings suggest that total immersion and satisfaction with MVR tourism directly and positively affect behavioral intention to physically visit the destination. However, loyalty to MVR negatively affects behavioral intention to physically visit the destination. Additionally, perceived risk moderates the relation between total immersion and behavioral intention to physically visit the destination. Finally, satisfaction with MVR tourism and loyalty to MVR promote horizontal loyalty to a set of virtual destinations. The study settles a longstanding controversy in technology and tourism literature by confirming that, while early-stage MVR-mediated tourism can promote physical tourism, it eventually competes with physical tourism once loyalty to MVR is established. Thus, the tourism sector should carefully weigh the pros and cons of deploying technologies such as MVR to enhance users’ experience.