In the upcoming weeks, the Web3 technology integrations in historical sites may become a new business model for tourism. Metaverse events at ancient and historical sites could soon shape the alternate future for tourism in the process.
Many castles and villas’ owners integrate the Web3 technology to attract more visitors. Most of them know virtual events can help them pay the hefty maintenance bills for their aging properties and offer them a chance to change historical narratives.
In that context, the metaverse tourism model has gained much traction in the past few months due to the COVID-19 Pandemic that largely impacted and weakened the tourism sector. This uptrend growth appears to continue as many people are increasingly adopting the revolution in tourism.
Currently, major metaverse platforms are clunky, difficult to use, and waiting for more real estate development. But interestingly, many firms are increasingly entering the metaverse en masse for PR bragging rights. Thus, learning existing, new, and revised histories through the metaverse will no longer be remote.
NFTs And Web3 Integrations On Castles, Villas, and Chateaus
In the past few months, many people from the tourism sector have agreed to integrate Web3 technology to showcase their aging properties. Michele Choi, the founder of Web3 venture lab 3.0 Labs, is a perfect example. Choi turned to digital opportunities to finance the upkeep of physical paintings, such as selling non-fungible tokens as fundraisers to preserve illiquid assets.
Initially, Choi served as a product manager at Google until she noticed the downtrend in museum tourism due to escalated lockdowns and sensations attracted by COVID-19, and she considered it to be an opportunity for future metaverses. Surprisingly, she subsequently resigned and started her metaverse experiments and developments.
In October last year, Choi launched Non-fungible Castle, an NFT exhibition and auction at Lobkowicz Palace, a real-life castle in Prague. At the time, the exhibition featured a 500-year painting and the goal was to increase access to cultural heritage.
The launch successfully amassed enough revenues to cover the restoration of other urgent projects at the property. Interestingly, the proof-of-concept project “3.0 Labs” is today relentlessly curating metaverse tourism experiences globally.
In addition to a broader mission of making Web3 available to many users, the 3.0 Labs is already working on various Web3 projects ranging from non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). Moreover, the venture lab is working on other metaverse projects, including the castle in Germany, a villa in India, and a museum in Ghana.
In a recent short interview, Choi explained her long-term vision for metaverse travel:
“Travel will be augmented as a teaching tool. In the past, tourism meant visiting a place. Photos were 2D, but 3D travel then emerged with virtual headsets. 4D time experimentation is now possible. Now, we can mesh different periods. There’s a teaching angle.”
The combinations of those factors now raise questions regarding what new histories will create in the metaverse.
DAOs Now Focused On Historical Sites Restorations
Prince Heinrich Donatus from the Schaumburg-Lippe royal family owns Bueckeburg Castle in Northern Germany, a 45-minute drive from Hannover. Schaumburg-Lippe royal family was the first of the 16 reigning families of the German Empire earlier in 1918. Several years later, the British Army from the Rhine took over the castle as its headquarters from 1948 to 1953. The castle was under Americans until the end of World War II in 1945.
According to Donatus, the castle features bullet holes on the outhouse that will now serve as the castle’s recent history. Americans were the first to arrive at Bueckeburg during the war, with their war tank shell dubbed the dome, still viewable at the museum. The family now exhibits the hole left in the ceiling as a reminder of World War II. Just like Scindia, Donatus also intends to integrate the metaverse, DAOs, and NFTs for historical preservations.
Donatus, also co-founder alongside Choi, will soon launch an NFT exhibition and a DAO-focused hacker house at the castle. In a short interview, Donatus said that the metaverse is not just virtual reality, but also a new economy. He insists that entering the metaverse could also protect the castle.
The German royal prince further outlined that the cost of maintenance for illiquid assets such as physical sprawling real estate can outweigh the family’s cash flow. The preservation of privately owned historical sites for both owners and the global public good is a significant challenge.
Donatus cited that his grandfather sold the castle for 1 euro over twenty years ago, but the new owner recently failed twice to find a buyer. The owner was even willing to resell the same castle for 1 euro:
“Foreigners who buy European castles give up after a year when they realize what is involved. The Bueckeburg castle is not meant to be lived in anymore — it is primarily a cultural site. We have the sole responsibility to maintain this history working with limited resources, and suddenly resources can be vastly enhanced and crowd-sourced.”
Although the rapidly growing virtual tourism could take several years to pay back, there are no maintenance fees such as air conditioning expenses for historical sites in the metaverse.
The Schaumburg-Lippe royal prince now foresees launching DAO treasury for renovations of the castle, akin to an American non-profit organization focused on protecting sites of cultural and historical significance UNESCO.
Notably, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are constrained free from barriers, creating network effects for a new tourism model. According to Donatus, the highly anticipated DAO dubbed PleasrDAO will include decentralized access and stewardship to castles and hackathons.
Impacts Of Metaverse In History
The metaverse will impact tourism businesses, education platforms, and museums, rewriting its history. Priyadarshini Raje Scindia, from Pradesh India, is a perfect example, integrating her family’s 200-year-old palace-turned-museum Jai Villas Palace into the metaverse.
Scindia recently launched NFTs collection featuring local artists to fund her metaverse project. In the same context, she took advantage of the COVID-19 Pandemic and closed her museum for two years to allow some needed expensive restoration works.
In a recent short interview, Scindia maintained that people must embrace NFTs, arguing that every generation has its art. According to her, this is a new medium for hungry, emerging Indian artists, adding that there should be no barrier to art creation.
Based on her experience, Scindia is confident that the metaverse is the ultimate future for tourism. She argues that people usually visit a museum once a year. But, in the metaverse, they can go to the museum multiple times over the same period. She further outlined that museums in India are not the first destination for tourists as many people get attracted to the entertainment industry.
According to Scindia, many people take private museums in small towns for granted even compared to shopping malls and cinema platforms. In that context, she has partnered with 3.0 Labs to create immersive experiences in the metaverse, including an animation that puts participants in short history documentaries. Scindia explained that partnership is about opening more doors for conversations and education:
“I disagree with my family history. We have rooms of research documents in the palace. Now is the right time and the right platform to correct history.”
During the interview, Scindia revealed the historical narrative she would like to showcase in her upcoming metaverse, including the story of her clan, the Maharatas. She cited the Game of Throne book, explaining:
“We fought for independence from all exterior forces, yet it was made out that we were fighting Indians in India. It is a historic fact that the Maharatas were the rulers of India, post the Mughals. And their narrative and value system are even more essential to study and understand today. I would like to use the platform to change the narrative through art, culture, and history.”
“I disagree with the way Maratha’s history is portrayed. However, today there is a renewed interest, maybe because of the glamor of cinema, but there’s also a new world out there. People have a deep interest in history today and are rediscovering art and history. The metaverse may be the right platform to inform and educate people, to generate interest, so they may start their journey of a deep dive into history, art, and culture through this amazing world.”
Revolutionized 4D Metaverse Events
People can integrate historical storytelling and other experiences with the rapidly growing Web3 technology to create surreal and impossible scenarios. In this case, Donatus explained:
“Under no circumstance do I want to experience things I can experience in the real world. The Metaverse can recreate and preserve the past. One could even create a “tennis match in a ballroom in the Palace of Versailles as a great tourist drawcard.”
Furthermore, Choi said that people can now upload guns and create wars for historical teaching purposes in the metaverse. According to Choi, the recreation of weapons happens globally, including in the United States, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Italy. There may be future teachable moments in the metaverse.
In the meantime, if the metaverse is the digital future, innovations and composition have just started. No wonder a group of Australian developers plans to establish embassies in the metaverse. Nonetheless, merging the ancient and the new is seemingly tenuous and depends on how participants see the significance of the cultural activities in the metaverse of the future.