After traveling to Belize to present a paper on human dimensions in recreation at the International Symposium on Society and Natural Resources, I thought about the experience of planning my trip using the internet. Now, mind you, the internet was in the early stages of development, at least for the masses. Academia had BITNET, ARPANET and other educational networks to ftp and otherwise communicate between computers, but the web was something new.
So I wrote the paper: Bristow, Robert S. (1999) 'Commentary: Virtual tourism — the ultimate ecotourism?', Tourism Geographies, 1: 2, 219 — 225. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616689908721311
Abstract: The advent of the Internet has become one of the most important events of the
twentieth century. On it we can access live weather reports, make travel reservations
and visit a foreign destination without leaving our computer. Surfing the
Net in anticipation of a trip is an important element of the total experience.
Although it is unlikely that a virtual field trip will replace the actual travel experience,
it may be the second best alternative. This paper explores some of the
potential elements of virtual ecotourism and cautions of the potential impact of
visitors exposed to a virtual visit.