Penang launches virtual reality tourism initiative

Yeoh (centre) trying out the VR technology at the launch. With him are (from left) Shahram, Pengkalan Kota assemblyman Daniel Gooi, Penang Global Tourism chief executive officer Ooi Chok Yan and Tourism Malaysia northern region director Shahrul Aman Sabir Ahmad.

PENANG has launched its “Welcome to Penang VR” project to boost tourists’ experience through virtual reality (VR) solutions.

This initiative lets visitors preview attractions and plan their trips accordingly.

The VR technology allows viewers to “teleport” themselves to various places of interest.

State publisher Buletin Mutiara reported that Fresnel Media was the appointed vendor for the project.

Fresnel Media’s Google Street View team chief technology officer Shahram Ghaderi said the company started adding the project’s content in March last year.

“The project covers 150 million sq ft of space on Google Street View, 80 aerial views of George Town and 274 locations on Penang island.

“We ran a pre-launch study and noticed that 16 locations (out of 274) received more than 100,000 views per location on Google Maps.

“The views have gone up to 8.2 million now,” he said in his presentation at the project’s launch.

He said 260,000 viewers spent more than a minute viewing the content.

“If just 3% of the 260,000 viewers visited Penang island after viewing the content, we can confidently say that this project managed to draw some 8,000 visitors to Penang island,” he said.

Shahram said most people were familiar with Google Maps and it had a great impact on tourist destinations worldwide.

“Most people would Google the destination before they go there physically,” he said.

He added that viewers could check out locations based on various categories – nature and adventure, places of worship, recreation and leisure, and shopping.

Penang tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said the VR project could improve the state’s online presence with immersive street view imagery.

“By working with Fresnel Media, we received support in destination marketing by adding the best and most relevant locations to Google Maps and completing Penang’s information on the Google platform.

“Visitors to Penang can enhance their overall experience when they visit the state,” he said.

Yeoh added that the locations listed under the project included Penang’s historical buildings, sculptures, street art and museums.

The mobile app Welcome to Penang is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Visitors can also go to /aerialview/ on the Internet.

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