People experience a “tour” to China through VR equipment at the opening ceremony of VR Beautiful China Interactive Tourist Experience in Abuja, Nigeria, Oct. 18, 2019. 

ABUJA, Oct. 19  — “It was beautiful! I felt I was in China. It has taken me to China for five minutes,” said Adanna Uweala excitedly as she took off the virtual reality (VR) headset.

Seeing herself immersed in the Great Wall and interacting with local people in an ancient Chinese town like a real tourist, is a memory that will linger for a long time in her mind, said the student of the University of Abuja.

“It was more like I was there, but I wasn’t. It’s wonderful. I expect a real trip to China someday,” she said.

Uweala was at the opening of a two-week “VR Beautiful China Interactive Tourist Experience” staged at the China Cultural Center in Abuja on Friday evening.

The tourist experience is a large-scale interactive activity to showcase China’s tourism culture with VR technology by a delegation from the China International Communication Center (CICC) in Beijing.

For 23-year-old Vincent Akinbode, it was a rare exploration of the beauty of China.

Akinbode stood mouth agape in front of the large television screen, awed by the moment in which he travelled through time and space, and had a “tour” to the world renowned Mogao Caves for sightseeing without leaving his own country.

“I’ve never been to China. This is a rare experience for me,” he said while handing over the VR headset and motion controllers which facilitated his “brief tour of China” to a Chinese operator in charge of the machine.

He said the experience elicited his desire to visit the place and experience the rich cultural heritage.

Combining technology and culture, this experience program “packs” China’s abundant cultural heritage sites and natural scenes, such as the Palace Museum, the Temple of Heaven and Lijiang ancient city, into the VR devices to enable audience a “real” trip to China, said Liu Lisha, head of the CICC delegation, at the opening of the VR experience.

She said with the Chinese magnificent tourist attractions and cultural heritage sites, this VR program is the first of its kind to promote China’s tourism culture to the world.

“We used computer graphics technology to build 3D models in a 1:1 ratio in computers and restore pictures and photos collected from the tourist scenes,” said Liu, who is also director of the new media section at the Network Convergence Media Center of CICC.

“All the details are kept, such as structures and paintings, which are highly realistic to achieve free-roaming and interactive VR,” she said.

For Muhammed Suleiman, a guest at the VR Beautiful China exhibition, the experience gave him a satisfaction like he actually traveled.

“It takes you beyond the shores of your imagination. You are immersed in it. It will make you want to go to China,” Suleiman said. “It felt like I just traveled to China. As some would say, seeing is believing.”

Since 2015, the VR view from China has been held and made hits in many countries including the United States, France and Mongolia, Liu said, adding it is the first time the tourist experience comes to Africa.

“Today through the interactive experience, You can appreciate wonders of oriental civilization here and now without travelling to China. Wish you a pleasant journey,” Liu said to her laughing audience.

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