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Digital tools and virtual reality to Explore Genoa

26 May 2017

The main goals of the City Administration regarding tourism are for sure related to its development, in order to improve the economic benefits for the city. When Genoa started a more conscious and  renovated work in tourism marketing and promotion, the Municipality paid a specific attention into innovative tools, investing time and resources in filling the gap that divided Genova by the main european tourism destinations, in terms of digital communication  and marketing.
In few years the City created a totally new website, www.visitgenoa.it , now available in seven languages and with a shop on line dedicated to our main products ; a complete and free app to discover all the most important touristic spots ; and, as our readers know, we worked a lot on social media communication.

Things that can now sound obvious, but that five years ago meant a deep change of approach; and, relevant question, a set of actions directly managed by the Municipality.

Besides the communication aspects, the other crucial focus for the City was the development of a large range of tourist products and services, which is certainly a basic factor to attract new visitors; although the key of success for a destination is represented by its unicity.  To enable the tourist to experience this unicity, it is necessary to present the territory in all its characteristics: culture, art, history, tradition… Also from this point of view, it was important to experiment innovative, digital tools.

A clear example is the partnership the City has with ETT , a local digital and creative company specialized in transformational, immersive experiences for Museums and cultural itineraries, combining innovative design and storytelling with state of the art technology .

About 3 years ago, the company started working on a national call for projects, connected with Digital Agenda Plan, designing a technological platform to create 4D, virtual reality itineraries; “Being a Genoese company, we immediately thought to a partnership with the Municipality” says Antonio Novellino from ETT “So we started an intense dialogue, and now we are prototyping the first results”.

The project was totally embraced by the City of Genoa, who became partner of ETT, because the city was deeply convinced that this new technology could be an excellent instrument to proceed in the right direction. The result is the new service “Exploracity"

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The advantages of the experimental action:

  1. The storytelling methodology, the virtual reality and 4D experiences and the NFC technology could be used not only to enhance generically the city cultural heritage, but also to create specific experience products, always requested by the market; products that can be sold through our channels, producing financial incoming for the City.
  2. Those technologies will make accessible different locations which are distinctive for the destination, but that for different reason are not regularly open to the public ( i.e. the Rolli Palaces, see below)
  3. The use of new technologies will bring the new generation closer to cultural/historical topics sometime neglected by this target. 
  4. This kind of technology can be used in a more “philological” way to create and enrich an experience able to satisfy the expert and mature public, or simply to create a “softer” approach, able to bring a normally uninterested visitor closer to these subjects.
  5. The crowdsourcing approach will help the DMO to improve existing products and to think about new ones

A large range of different experience products will helps to distribute the tourists on the territory, avoiding problems related to the massive concentration around few attraction points.

Paola Casubolo, head of the Tourism Development Office of the Municipality, says: “For The City Administration it was important that the new product will not became a simple virtual experience that could substitute the real discover of the territory, but that this technology can be used to enrich the real experience, opening new opportunities otherwise not possible.

We decided, according with the partner, to experiment the technology on two pre-existing services, in order to transform them in experiences and make them more interesting for a larger public, transforming them in edutainment products

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Here are the products Genoa is working on:

The Medieval tour (now testing and partially available at Porto Antico Tourist Information Office): Genoa has one of the largest medieval historical centre of Europe, although all the evidences are sometimes partially submerged by successive building. The use of storytelling will allow the tourist to follow a philologically corrected narration and will help him, through the virtual reality, to image and to experience the past.

The Rolli Palaces (in progress): most of the 42 palaces, belonging to the UNESCO Heritage, are owned by private families or host business activities (banks, offices). For these reasons, only few of them are regularly available to visits. The virtual reality will open all the doors to the tourist, who will be able to enjoy masterpieces otherwise unknown.

The visitor will have the chance to choose between these 2 itineraries. Thanks to an app, they will be guided during the exploration in the city; in some special location along the tour they will have the opportunity to experience the place with the virtual reality, using the smartphone and the cartboard

After the testing phase, it will be possible to apply those technologies to different aspects of the territory, creating always new itineraries and products.

Municipality of Genoa

Communication Officer