Make Yourself at Home: Tourism Solutions


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBKy-hSedg8&w=440&h=253] Four of our partner cities this award round are interested in finding solutions to issues of tourism (Barcelona, Derry-Londonderry, Hamburg, and Fukuoka).  What with tourism being the world’s largest service sector industry, 5th or 6th overall, and the need of cities to attract tax revenue from non-residents, it makes sense that so many cities see tremendous value in attracting more tourists.

As I am not intimately familiar with its mechanisms and recent innovations, I did a quick news search for “tourism industry.”  One of the first stories was about Aurasma, the “world’s first visual browser.”  The video at the top demonstrates the mobile app’s incredible power.  The app allows you to point your smartphone at any image or vista in front of you (actual reality) and over it impose an image (augmented reality).  While it’s simply fun to use, it offers tremendous opportunity for the tourism industry – Mexico and Hawaii are currently testing it out.

In a related search, several tourism-related companies showed up in TechCrunch’s CrunchBase, a database of start-ups.  Tourism Radio caught my eye.  This radio is “tuned to the listener” – a device put into rental cars and, using GPS and customer inputs, delivers individualized information about the area through which the tourist drives.

Related is hummba, a social and travel networking site that users can access through a mobile app to access free travel guides and share travel experiences.

I’m starting to think these apps could provide value to residents and tourists alike – you never know what your neighborhood used to look like.  What better way to engage more deeply with your environment?

-          Terra Curtis

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