MEDIEVAL Bishop’s Waltham, in Hampshire, has become one of the first 12 towns in the UK to offer visitors a state-of-the-art interactive virtual tour of its attractions and shops via their computers.
Web users are not only able to see 360-degree panoramic pictures of the town, but with a click of their mouse they can ‘walk into’ shops too.
The initiative is supported by Bishop’s Waltham Parish Council, which is hosting the tour on its website, www.bishopswalthamparishcouncil.co.uk
Lindsay Edge, clerk to the Parish Council, said: “The virtual tour is right at the top of our home page – it’s one of the first things people see when they visit our website.
“Visitors to the site can take a look around our historic town, including the Bishop of Winchester’s Palace and St George’s Square, and take a walk up the High Street, popping in to our independent shops – all without leaving their home!
“We are finding it a really useful tool to attract visitors to our town. We are also getting great feedback from tourists, especially older visitors, who can get a good idea of what and where our attractions are and how far they are from each other before they arrive.
“Our independent retailers are very important to us, and we are delighted that most of them now have a presence on the virtual tour.”
The interactive virtual tours for market towns are the brainchild of Duncan Curtis, director of Vue UK Limited.
Having spent five years in Canada, two spent working with the software, which was designed primarily for estate agents, Duncan returned to England to promote the idea of virtual tours to market towns, although larger towns and tourism organisations are now starting to hear about the initiative and showing an interest in having their own tours.
The software allows shopkeepers to show their wares online, and business owners to advertise their services.
Businesses that subscribe to be part of the tour are flagged with ‘hot spots’, and the visitor can walk into business premises and even look at specific offers on shelves.
With prices from as little as £10 a month, the virtual tour is proving to be very popular with businesses wishing to promote their services in a unique way. The tour also allows small businesses without their own website to create a powerful, visual web presence.
Individual businesses wanting to advertise on the site, or other market towns interested in their own interactive virtual tours, should call Duncan Curtis on 0789 116 1176 or email firstname.lastname@example.org