It sounds like science fiction, but robot bar staff, hotel rooms that change colour, cruise ships as big as aircraft carriers and even robot sex are part of the future for travelers, a tourism conference has been told.
Tourism futurologist Ian Yeoman, from New Zealand’s University of Wellington, gave an preview of what the world could be like in 2050, shaped by global warming, an older population, food, water and jet fuel supply problems and technological advances.
Dr Yeoman said the future may see a more controlled society with a return to mass tourism spawning a range of new indoor tourism products.
Indoor artificial ski centres, circuses, zoos, golf courses and recreated landscapes, as well as giant cruise ships, could be among the new attractions.
As costs for basics such as electricity and food increased, tourism operators could turn to robots as cheap labour, Dr Yeoman said.
Robot waiters at cocktail bars, remote-controlled camera-carrying guard dogs in hotel lobbies and self-cleaning hotel rooms were all likely, Dr Yeoman said.
“Robotics will become important, because you’re going to have labour shortages in the future,” he said.
“You’ll have some sort of interaction in terms of robots doing certain types of mundane activities.”
Even robot “prostitutes” that would not pass on diseases such as HIV could make an appearance, he said..
“But you’re talking about extreme futures,” he said.
Dr Yeoman said technology would also revolutionise hotel bedrooms, with beds that sensed a guest’s comfort needs and chemical wallpaper that could change colour to suit a guest’s mood.
Of course, special pills could override a traveler’s need for sleep.
“If you look at some of the research from the US army research centre, what they do at the moment, when soldiers go into battle, they’re given sleep deprivation tablets,” he said.
“To a certain extent you could replicate that into travel and tourism, taking a tablet to do a 24-hour experience.”