In November 2018, word got out that Niantic, Inc., the gaming company responsible for the widely popular augmented reality (AR) game Pokémon Go, started a partnership with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Though these two organizations may seem unrelated, their ideologies are quite similar. As described by Anne Beuttenmüller, Head of Marketing EMEA, “Our goal at Niantic is to create interactive games that encourage exercise, social interaction and exploration, giving players the opportunity to play together in the real world and discover the incredible history hidden right in their own neighborhoods.” Likewise, UNWTO promotes responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism, as they believe tourism to be a main driver of economic growth, inclusive development, and environmental sustainability. Their mission statements boil down to the same concept: the real world is out there for us to explore and savor, and taking advantage of it can have exceptionally positive impacts on our lives, both as individuals and as a society.

The ideal outcome of this collaboration is to “foster exploration and build awareness of destinations around the world.” In order to do that, these entities must work in tandem to inspire and facilitate travel and exploration. By using Niantic’s AR games, players are presented with the opportunity to visit real-world locations that they otherwise may not have exposure to. Moreover, Niantic sees this as a chance to expose its loyal fans to other cultures and ways of life, allowing them to relish the beauty of the world around them.

In order to achieve this, UNWTO and Niantic have plans to construct a variety of campaigns and events that build on Niantic’s Pokémon Go and their newest release, Ingress Prime. Many of these will likely utilize the map technology used in Niantic titles and may also incorporate the use of the phone camera so that players see more than what meets the eye.

Dynamic partnerships like this new collaboration can shake the tourism industry to its core, potentially resulting in creative solutions and innovation that will keep the public’s interests piqued and encourage people to travel.


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