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Transforming Heritage Tourism

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Exeter Cathedral is part of an exciting new project to develop and implement a range of exciting augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences for a number of tourist attractions in the South of England and the North of France.

Led by the University of Exeter, and working with partners in the UK and France, the Interreg France (Channel) England project, VISTA AR, will develop an understanding of visitor experiences, create new VR and AR digital tools, and innovate business models and opportunities presented by digital technology.

VISTA AR will explore the use of different digital devices to create new visitor experiences. Virtual reality helmets, tablet and smartphone devices, and immersive room experiences will be used to bring history to life, allowing visitors to meet characters from the past and providing access to inaccessible heritage artefacts.

Once developed the digital tools will be used to create new digital experiences in further locations; the National Trust Tin Coast, East Pool mine and South West Coast Path in the UK, as well as the Fougères Castle, the Lorient Submarine Museum and the Gardens of Valloires in France.

The tools developed by the project will be made available to other UK and French cultural heritage sites on a cloud-based system where they can be easily accessed and adapted to the needs of each specific heritage location.

The project is a major step in providing cultural heritage sites with an effective way to enhance visitor experiences while increasing visitor numbers and revenue.

The aim of the project is to gain a better understanding of the visitor experience as well as make AR/VR available at lower cost to more heritage sites – helping them increase the number of visitors by tailoring digitisation to their own business models.