University of Oulu

Virtual reality in destination branding

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Author: Utriainen, Minna1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Marketing
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Pages: 120
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : M. Utriainen, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-05-16
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Saraniemi, Saila
Reviewer: Saraniemi, Saila
Väinämö, Milka


Businesses might gain a competitive advantage by offering virtual tourism as it is still a novel phenomenon. Experiencing virtual reality, the user engages with the virtual content more in comparison with 2D media such as texts and pictures. The immersive aspect of virtual reality increases user engagement in the virtual environment. Therefore, the virtual experience raises higher interest towards the content. As virtual content engages the users more, it could be utilized for destination branding purposes. Destination marketers could offer virtual content in the form of virtual tourism in order to productize the intangible aspect of traveling. Virtual tourism could be also considered as a sample tool for marketing to experience a destination before potential travel.

The existing research covers mainly studies about virtual reality, virtual tourism and destination branding without combining these aspects. Therefore, this study focuses on researching the combination of these aspects. The purpose of the study is to define the uses of virtual reality in destination branding and the means of it. Also, the meaning of virtual tourism for destination brands is considered. To understand the researched phenomena even further, a theoretical framework will be provided to clarify the most essential theoretical (secondary data) aspects of the study. The theoretical framework will be later completed with empirical findings (primary data) to provide a whole diagram to support the examined phenomenon.

The chosen research method for the study is a qualitative approach to collect empirical data in support of related literature. Semi-structured interviews were selected for the qualitative research method. The criteria for selecting suitable interviewees were to select organizations that operate in the tourism field and implement destination branding. The interviews were performed with both public and private organizations. Also, the abductive aspect was applied as collected empirical data had a dialogue throughout the research with selected literature. The collected data was transcribed by the researcher and thematic analysis was applied to notice frequencies within the data. However, also infrequencies are presented.

The study results indicated that the operations regarding virtual reality varied in both public and private organizations. While public organizations provided virtual content among their other marketing operations, private organizations offered virtual content as their main purpose for their businesses. However, the joint consensus among the interviewees was to bring tourists on the spot to destinations. As by offering virtual content their ultimate purpose was marketing the destination. However, the study indicates that virtual tourism can be used for three purposes; (1) as a sample tool, (2) as a product, and (3) as an on-site added-value experience. The mentioned purposes jointly attract tourists to destinations in their various ways yet constantly aiming for destination branding.

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Copyright information: © Minna Utriainen, 2023. Except otherwise noted, the reuse of this document is authorised under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) licence ( This means that reuse is allowed provided appropriate credit is given and any changes are indicated. For any use or reproduction of elements that are not owned by the author(s), permission may need to be directly from the respective right holders.