Galloway Forest Park becomes star of Visit Scotland’s Virtual Reality Experience

The launch of a new virtual reality app from VisitScotland means that people across the globe can now experience the dark skies at Galloway Forest Park to inspire them to come and experience its beauty for real and enjoy a first-hand experience of the region’s famous attractions.

This leading Scottish visitor attraction is featured in the innovative new ScotlandVR tourism app which enables prospective visitors to go on a virtual visit to 26 top attractions. They may also choose, for example, to stroll around the prehistoric village of Skara Brae in Orkney, soar like a bird over Edinburgh Castle, journey into the depths of Ben Cruachan, the Hollow Mountain, or stand under the Northern Lights.

ScotlandVR is a ground-breaking virtual travel experience that allows people, wherever they are in the world, to be immersed in Scotland’s remarkable attractions.

Launched today (February 28), the ScotlandVR app, which is available for all Android and Apple users to download for free on Google Play and Apple Store, will – it is hoped – inspire more people to escape from their surroundings to discover Scotland in person.

Featuring state-of-the art 360˚ imagery and footage, the journey begins in a virtual glen complete with moo-ing Highland Cow, crackling fire and bellowing stag. From there, users can jump into a map of Scotland and experience 26 unique attractions covering every region of the country.

The whole environment can be experienced in Stereoscopic 3D when used with a Google Cardboard virtual reality headset, or in 360˚ view using gyroscope technology in phone mode.

The ScotlandVR app is a result of the collaborative effort and pioneering spirit of Scottish academic, technology and tourism sectors.

During the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, VisitScotland challenged young talent from Scotland’s academia to create an exciting, interactive digital product designed to inspire and motivate people to visit Scotland. The winners of the competition were a team from Edinburgh Napier University, led by Professor David Benyon and Dr Oli Mival, which developed the concept for an innovative app in which to explore a virtual Scotland. The final ScotlandVR app was created by Edinburgh-based digital and creative agency, Whitespace in association with VisitScotland and Edinburgh Napier University.

The app launches with 26 attractions, but future phases of the software will see further attractions added through refreshed content. The landmark locations for launch were chosen from set criteria including footfall, product diversity, online searches and links to the current 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. The launch attractions are:

Abbotsford House
Scottish Borders
Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
Ayrshire & Arran
Cairngorms National Park
Calanais Standing Stones
Outer Hebrides
Cruachan The Hollow Mountain
Argyll & The Isles
Dunnottar Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh and Lothians
Eilean Donan Castle
The Falkirk Wheel
Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, Stirling and Forth Valley
Falkland Palace and Garden
Forth Bridges
Fife / Edinburgh and Lothians
Galloway Forest Park
Dumfries & Galloway
Glasgow Cathedral
Glasgow & Clyde Valley
Glenfinnan Viaduct
The Kelpies
Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, Stirling and Forth Valley
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Glasgow & Clyde Valley
National Museum of Scotland
Edinburgh and Lothians
New Lanark World Heritage Site
Riverside Museum
Glasgow & Clyde Valley
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Edinburgh and Lothians
RRS Discovery
Dundee and Angus
The Scottish Crannog Centre and Loch Tay
Skara Brae
Strathisla Distillery
Moray Speyside
The National Wallace Monument
Shetland Museum and Archives

Research shows that 60% of searches for destination information are made using mobile devices. This, coupled with the fact that virtual reality is experiencing growth worldwide (forecast numbers of VR users between now and 2018 are set to grow by 400% to 170 million) creates a prime opportunity for Scotland to be discovered in a new and innovative way. A recent report by Greenlight VR showed that travel and adventure VR content is the most sought-after by consumers (74%), followed by movies and live events.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs said:
“This virtual reality app provides people across the globe with a window into Scotland’s fantastic attractions. They will experience 26 unique attractions covering every region of the country. It will, I hope, inspire more people to discover Scotland for real.

“In this, the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, there has never been a better time to come to Scotland and experience our world class destinations and historic buildings and monuments.

“A team from Edinburgh Napier University developed the concept for this app, it demonstrates the pioneering spirit and ingenuity of Scotland’s academic, technology and tourism sectors.”

Doug Wilson, VisitScotland Regional Director, said:

“I am delighted that Dumfries & Galloway is featured in VisitScotland’s exciting first venture into the world of virtual reality. The dark skies at Galloway Forest Park is an outstanding Scottish attraction and fantastic tourism asset so I hope that a virtual visit will encourage more people to come to see it in person and explore the region.

“Far from being a fad or gimmick, VR is revolutionising the way people choose the destinations they might visit by allowing them to ‘try before they buy’ and learn more about the country in a unique and interactive way.

“Once people get a taste for the spirit of Scotland or #ScotSpirit through ScotlandVR, we expect they will be booking a holiday to enjoy a first-hand experience of our stunning landscapes and attractions.”

ScotlandVR is now available to download from Google Play and Apple Stores. For more information, visit www.visitscotland.com/app

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