Sydney | Published on 1st May 2015 at 10:27

Qantas and Hamilton Island have today announced they will release a 3D Virtual Reality (VR) experience of the Great Barrier Reef and Hamilton Island, giving customers a unique experience of one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations.

Qantas has partnered with Samsung and Rapid VR to produce a new VR film which will allow Qantas customers the opportunity to experience a 360 degree experience of the Great Barrier Reef and Hamilton Island. The film will be available in select Qantas international lounges and flights from 27 June 2015.

Qantas has also announced it will increase the number of flights between Hamilton Island and Brisbane, further strengthening its commitment to drive tourism to the Whitsunday region.

From 31 August, QantasLink will add two return flights per week (Tuesday and Friday) on its 74-seat Q400 aircraft and upgrade its Monday flight to a 125-seat Boeing 717 jet aircraft, adding just under 400 seats a week between Brisbane and Hamilton Island.

Qantas Group Executive for Brand, Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Olivia Wirth, said the Virtual Reality experience coupled with the additional flying underlines the airlines commitment to promote the Whitsunday region as a must-see-and-do tourism destination.

“As one of the largest private investors in Australian tourism, we are constantly looking at different ways to showcase the wonderful destinations on our network,” she said.

“Our Virtual Reality headsets have already proven a hit with our customers in our lounges and on some of our international flights. It’s a fantastic way for us to give our customers a unique experience of the Great Barrier Reef and Hamilton Island, which we expect will translate into more people choosing to visit the Whitsundays for the next holiday destination.”

Hamilton Island Chief Executive Office Glenn Bourke said: “Recent Tourism Australia research shows Australia is now the highest-rated destination for ‘world class beauty’ and natural environments, with the Great Barrier Reef rated as the most appealing attraction.  As the ultimate Great Barrier Reef holiday destination, we welcome Qantas bringing more passengers from Brisbane, which is an important market for us.

“Certainly, we have seen a new level of interest in the Great Barrier Reef from our guests – domestic and international – in the past 12 months, and I’m sure the Great Barrier Reef virtual vision we’ve created with Qantas will inspire many more to visit given the remarkable visual effects.  However, nothing can beat actually seeing the Reef in person.  As a regular diver, I can say being on the Reef – one of nature’s greatest wonders – is an exhilarating and unbeatable experience,” said Mr Bourke.

Qantas has been showcasing the Samsung Gear VR headsets and Galaxy Note 4 smartphones in its First Class Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne and on select Airbus A380 flights between Australia and Los Angeles in the First Class cabin.

Qantas currently operates 14 return flights per week from Hamilton Island to Brisbane, Sydney and Cairns. In addition, Qantas will start flying from Melbourne to Hamilton Island twice a week on its 168-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft from 27 June 2015.

Qantas is offering sale fares to Hamilton Island from Brisbane ($95), Sydney ($159) and Melbourne ($159) from 1 May 2015 – 8 May 2015 for travel between 30 January 2016 to 13 March 2016.