Travellers in Japan, never a country to let a crisis get in the way of a holiday getaway, have resorted to taking their bus trips online during the pandemic.
Living up to the country’s reputation as a high-tech place with a penchant for playfulness, one Japanese bus company has begun using Zoom video conferences to take customers on a journey – fake seat belts included.
A spokeswoman for the Kotobus Tours company said that their pandemic-era “passengers” are now being welcomed via Zoom by a friendly young bus attendant and bus driver – all while staying put at home.
Then it’s departure time – only that there’s no real bus that actually drives anywhere.
Instead, the passengers enjoy the beautiful view from home with the help of recorded videos of the actual route.
At their destinations, there are also live tourism representatives who cheerfully welcome guests from afar and explain the local attractions – just like on a real bus trip.
And since culinary specialities are one of the highlights of any trip to Japan, passengers receive a travel package by post before the start of the trip, including local specialities to be eaten during the virtual bus trip.
Safety is still paramount – even if the would-be passengers are nowhere near a bus. Tour operators are providing customers with apretend seat belt consisting of a strip of cardboard that passengers put on at home when instructed.
Passenger numbers are also limited per online trip, and a maximum of 15 are allowed on board, each paying roughly 4,980 yen (RM190). The bus company currently offers three different online trips, according to the spokeswoman.
The tour operators came up with the idea after no more coach journeys could be operated due to the pandemic. Since the online bus trips have been well received, the company is now considering continuing to offer them even after the end of the pandemic.
For anyone elsewhere looking for instant trips from home, there’s plenty of footage of city and countryside journeys available online, many of it compiled at driveandlisten.herokuapp.com, where you can even tune into local live radio while watching the world go by. – dpa
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