NANAIMO — Tourism stakeholders are raving about the potential of a new app offering a guided walking tour delving into Nanaimo's rich history.
Nanaimo is now featured on the free smartphone app On This Spot, alongside other cities including Vancouver and Esquimalt. The program features more than 400 historical photos of downtown, Departure Bay and Newcastle Island as part of a walking tour which leads people to specific locations. Users can view then-and-now images of Nanaimo, superimpose themselves into historic shots and read in-depth history on some of the city's most notable locations.
"I think it's just brilliant, for both residents and visitors," Scott Littlejohn, community engagement and marketing coordinater for Living Forest Oceanside Campground, told NanaimoNewsNOW. "When you combine history, visuals and mapping, it creates such a powerful tool...For visitors it will be an experience to help them get out, move around the city and see places they may not otherwise."
Littlejohn said he hasn't seen anything like the app for the region before. "I was super impressed with the quality of the photographs, the ability to go back and forth between present day and historic photographs."
The app was a collaboration between Tourism Nanaimo and the Nanaimo Hospitality Association, with both organizations chipping in funding. A series of brochures and promotional material will be distributed soon.
Karen Bannister, marketing specialist with Tourism Nanaimo, said while the concept of a walking tour is not new, the app feature is.
"From a tourism perspective, anytime you can get people walking around and experiencing, especially the downtown core, it's really positive because they get to see all of the shopping and dining opportunities that are there too," Bannister said.
She said incorporating digital content into tourism is crucial. "Just knowing people spend so much time on their phone and are influenced by what they see on it, as a tourism organization we constantly have to be looking at what is that next trend."
The app's developers reported more than 8,000 downloads, with 65 per cent of users under the age of 35. The next version of the app will include a "what's nearby" feature highlighting local museums, restaurants and events.
You can learn more about the app and download it here.
On Twitter: @domabassi
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