Claims virtual reality tours could attract tourists to local area

Councillors David Fairweather and Derek Wann try out a VR headset.

Virtual reality apps could play a vital role in boosting Scottish tourism, local councillors have claimed.

Arbroath councillors are urging the Scottish Government to help areas such as Angus develop VR to promote tourism.

The call comes after it was revealed a Japanese city had developed an app that allows viewers to “tour” visitor attractions in the area on their smartphones.

The city official in charge of the app said: “Foreign people apparently developed a keen interest in our city as a real travel destination through the virtual reality experience of the scenes of the four seasons of the city.”

After the app was introduced, the number of foreign visitors to the city subsequently increased by 30% in a single year.

Councillor Derek Wann said: “Business owners tell me that Angus misses out on tourism because visitors too often tour the central belt and head straight up the A9 — missing out Angus altogether.

“If people have the opportunity to virtually ‘look around’ at what we have to offer on their smartphones, we could well emulate the success of our counterparts in Japan and boost tourism numbers to the area.”

Councillor David Fairweather added: “These apps in Japan are part-funded by the national government, and I’d like to see the Scottish Government help places such as Angus be promoted on the international tourism stage through this cutting-edge technology.”

Jim Clarkson, VisitScotland regional partnerships director, said: “As we’ve seen with the success of our Scotland VR app, virtual reality is becoming an increasingly popular and inclusive way to give everyone a taste of what Scotland has to offer.

“VR is revolutionising the way people choose the destinations they might visit by allowing them to ‘try before they buy’.”