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Sneak peek: Jamestown Tourism adds virtual tour

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Emily Bivens, office manager for Jamestown Tourism, uses 3-D goggles to look at the new 360-degree visual page on the agency website. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

Highlights of Jamestown are now part of a virtual tour that is designed to help captivate more potential visitors.

Jamestown Tourism recently added a virtual tour component to its website that provides 360-degree photographic views of the city’s unique landmarks and businesses, said Emily Bivens, office manager of Jamestown Tourism. The photos enhance the “Play, Eat, Stay” theme of the Jamestown Tourism website, she said.

“The idea is to give visitors a sneak peek and leave them wanting more,” Bivens said. “We are always thinking about our visitors and we are finding that the destinations they are looking for have a larger digital presence.”

The work was done by Be More Colorful, LLC, a Fargo-based virtual reality firm that added the real world 360-degree element in 2017, according to the business website. Bivens and Searle Swedlund, executive director of Jamestown Tourism, were introduced to the company at a North Dakota Tourism conference.

Thirteen stops were selected to capture the virtual photos for the Jamestown Tourism website at discoverjamestownnd.com. To view them, click on the sneak peek tab toward the bottom of the website’s home page.

The 360 photos so far include Pelican Point Campground, 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse, National Buffalo Museum, Sabir’s Buffalo Grill, Jamestown Civic Center, Frontier Village, Jonny B’s Brickhouse, The Depot Cafe, Two Rivers Activity Center, The Arts Center, St. James Basilica, Hansen Arts Park and Babb’s Coffee House.

Jamestown Tourism will try to add future 360-degree imaging to include Fort Seward, the University of Jamestown, Harold Newman Arena, more of TRAC and other locations, Bivens said.  

A viewer can use a phone, tablet or computer to see the 360-degree images, she said. By clicking on the the Virtual Tour button on the bottom of the page a viewer can use 3-D goggles to see a stereo image on the phone screen, she said.

“Any smartphone should be able to view those 360 images,” Bivens said. “In VR (virtual reality) mode it looks and feels like you’re actually in there.”

The enhanced images are hopefully a way to generate more interest to physically visit Jamestown, she said.

The 360 degree business photography can be used on the individual Google My Business profiles along with other user platforms such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, she said. This all helps Jamestown get a bigger digital presence, she said.

“That is what our visitors are looking for,” Bivens said. “We have had quite a few of the places that are featured on the tour share the content on social media and that creates a bigger footprint so that people find us.”

The virtual tour comes two years after an audio tour was introduced on the Jamestown Tourism website. Visitors can listen to 2-minute stories via digital phone by calling 701-712-9329 and then entering the three-digit code that pertains to a given location followed by the pound key.

“It’s just all focused on the visitor experience and creating things like the Talking Trail to keep them in town for a long time if they want to explore the whole entire trail,” Bivens said. “We think that the longer they stay the more money they will spend and that helps create a positive economic impact.”

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