Visitors of the 34th Philoxenia Exhibition (2018), had the chance to get to know thematic touristic products through Virtual Reality Technologies.
In the 34th edition of Philoxenia Exhibition, which was held in November of 2018, the visitors of the “Region of Central Macedonia” stand had the chance to get to know the thematic touristic products through Virtual and Augmented Reality Technologies, Video 360ο and the use of VR headsets.
The Palace of Aigai was presented through the use of VR by a cooperation between the Region of Central Macedonia (RCM) and the Information Technologies Institute (ITI) of CERTH. The user of the VR was able to take part in a serious game, where one could wander the Palace of Aigai. Also, in the 34th Philoxenia, more touristic destinations of the Region of Central Macedonia were presented through 360o videos, VR headsets and mobile applications with touristic and cultural routes of Thessaloniki. Moreover, augmented reality applications were presented about Mount Olympus, as well as new audio-visual material of thematic products such as wine tourism in conjunction with Aegean Airlines and the “Cultural routes of St Paul's steps”.
Through the aforementioned techniques, people visiting the Philoxenia expo had the chance to explore touristic destinations through exceptional personal experience.
The budget to acquire the equipment is relatively low (the equipment can be re-used at different occasions). The 360ο equipment had a cost of around 50.000€ (for the City of Thessaloniki and all the 7 Regional Units of RCM) and it was developed by a private company.
Evidence of success
The success of this practice can be depicted by the amount of citizens that visited the 34th Philoxenia expo and more specifically the stand of Region of Central Macedonia (around 20.000 visitors).
Potential for learning or transfer
The specific practice can easily be transferred to other regions as there are no constraints or difficulties in organizing such an initiative. If an organization has IT specialists, it could develop a similar application by its own means, so the cost of this initiative can be minimized. Furthermore, tourism is always a sector that attracts a lot of people, thus the combination of promoting touristic places using virtual reality equipment can be an intriguing subject for the European citizens. Last but not least, the technology used in this practice can easily become familiar to people of all ages.
Even though the aforementioned practice was used for touristic promotion purposes, it can be adopted by mobility planning. For instance, the citizens of a Region could have the chance to experience a planned change of a road to a pedestrian road through the use of VR, so as to give their feedback.