Virtual tourism – A niche in cultural heritage
In Europe, the tourism industry is a very important economic sector and raises signiﬁcant revenues from visitors from other parts of the world.
According to 1998-2000 ﬁgures, 12% of Europe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is generated by tourism and tourism-related activities and over 20 million jobs have been created in this sector, essentially within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This sustained growth is predicted to continue well into the future. According to forecasts by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), the number of tourists in Europe is expected to double in the next 25 years. By 2020, there will be more than 700 million cross-border tourist arrivals a year. In economic terms, this corresponds to an annual growth rate of 3% and an increase of 100,000 new jobs a year, as experienced in the past few years (Ecosystems Ltd, 2003).