Thursday 30 June 2016

Fáilte Ireland launches Virtual Reality tours of the Wild Atlantic Way

Have headset, will travel

Published 17/03/2016 | 08:41

Fáilte Ireland's VR experiences will be shared on the Oculus store where millions of people with VR headsets can download and enjoy them.
Picture Colm Mahady / Fennells
Fáilte Ireland's VR experiences will be shared on the Oculus store where millions of people with VR headsets can download and enjoy them. Picture Colm Mahady / Fennells
Noel John McLoughlin, Failte Ireland Marketing Director and Nyree Landry, Failte Ireland Consumer Engagement Officer, trialling the new VR experiences. Picture Colm Mahady / Fennells
Failte Ireland visit Dublin Suffolk Street office - Virtual Reality Goggles display. Picture Colm Mahady / Fennells

Fáílte Ireland has captured several experiences along the Wild Atlantic Way for Virtual Reality (VR) viewing.

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The VR products, piloted this week at the ITB Berlin travel fair, will give people the chance to remotely experience 3D tours of the coastal route.

The "unmissable", 360-degree experiences include surfing under the Cliffs of Moher, horse-riding in Sligo, cycling in the Burren and climbing one of the tallest sea stacks in Europe off the coast of Co. Donegal.

Streaming through Samsung VR Gear and Occulus Rift tehnology, the experiences were captured with the help of activity partners along the Wild Atlantic Way.

For the surfing experience, for example, Fáilte Ireland worked with creative agency Big O Media to shoot champion surfer Ollie O'Flaherty using specially adapted cameras in the Atlantic. You can watch several 'making-of' snippets in this video:

VR products are in their infancy, but their potential to transform travel marketing and help consumers make travel decisions is viewed as a huge opportunity.

“You forget it’s a 3D/360 experience and you think its reality," said one user at ITB Berlin this week. "It really gave me the full experience of the Wild Atlantic Way - I never knew you could do that in Ireland, it was amazing."

Fáilte Ireland says it is also looking at the possibility of integrating the immersive VR experiences across its Tourist Office network, and offering them to trade and industry partners for promotional activites.

“Virtual Reality is proving to be a game-changer in how experiences are consumed and this technology is set to be the most exciting innovation in travel and tourism marketing during 2016," said its Director of Marketing, Noel-John McLoughlin.

The Wild Atlantic Way experiences will be available for consumers with VR headsets to download on the Oculus store by the end of March, the tourism agency says.

The 360-degree video tours will also be released on YouTube.

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