Faroe Islands lets web users control a real-life tour guide

‘Look left, turn right… jump!’ Faroe Islands offers ‘remote tourism’ – where web users can control a REAL-LIFE tour guide

  • Wearing helmet cameras, local guides provide commentary to web audiences
  • They are controlled by web users, who can tell them which direction to walk in
  • Tourism has been growing in the Faroe Islands with 120,000 visiting in 2019 

Virtual interactive tours are all the rage as a result of the global travel lockdown.

And the Faroe Islands has jumped on the bandwagon.

But it’s offering a twist – web users can control a real-life tour guide to trek around the remote archipelago’s quaint towns and volcanic islands. 

The Faroe Islands is offering remote tourism, where web users can direct a real-life tour guide around the remote archipelago

The minute-long slots for controlling the guide are available on a first-come, first-served basis

Web users around the world can tell the tour guides where to go – and even to jump and run

The innovation is meant to sustain global interest in the North Atlantic islands, which have recently come to rely more on revenue from tourism.

And it might help locked-down people around the world broaden their horizons beyond the four walls of their homes.

Tourist board spokesman Levi Hanssen said: ‘If you ask them to go left, they go left.

‘If you ask them to jump, they jump. If you ask them to run, they run.

‘You’re sort of steering this person and deciding what you want to see and where you want this person to go.’

Wearing helmet cameras, local guides provide commentary to web audiences remotely, guiding them across the Danish semi-autonomous territory, which has had less than 200 confirmed coronavirus cases and no deaths.

Nearly 50,000 people joined the first four-hour-long tours, which are offered for free, said Hanssen.

The Faroe Islands is a rocky 18-island volcanic archipelago that’s home to 50,000 people

Kristina Sandberg Joensen, a tour guide for Visit Faroe Islands, wears a helmet fitted with a live-streaming camera as part of the tourist board’s Remote Tourism online experience

HOW DOES THE REMOTE TOUR WORK? 

The tourist uses a virtual joypad on a smartphone, tablet or PC to direct the local – and there is a jump button, too.

The local is equipped with a live video camera, allowing you to see views from an on-the-spot perspective. 

The minute-long slots for controlling the guide are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tours started last Wednesday and will run until at least April 25. They are webcast on the tourist board website and on its Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Online tours come with new risks, Hanssen says. On one trip, a web user tried to make the guide jump into the ocean, but he stopped in time.

He added: ‘It’s very surreal to know that you’re walking around here in the Faroe Islands being controlled by someone on their sofa or even on the toilet.

‘Who knows where they are?’

Previous tours have visited the territory’s second-largest city, Klaksvik, and other picturesque locations. There are plans for a kayak tour, a horse ride and more.

Tourism has been growing in the Faroe Islands in the past five years, with around 120,000 people visiting in 2019

Hanssen explained: We’re going to try and see if we can get on a helicopter and see if we can get people to steer a pilot.’

The Faroe Islands is a rocky 18-island volcanic archipelago that’s home to 50,000 people, most of whom live in Torshavn, the capital.

Fishing and aquaculture are the traditional industries, but tourism has been growing in the past five years, with around 120,000 people visiting in 2019.

The tourism industry ground to a halt after authorities urged travellers not to come until at least May 1. The project is a way to help the industry rebound once the pandemic ends.

‘The idea is to whet people’s appetite and get them to want to come and experience this in real life,’ Hanssen said.

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