The Faroe Islands, a remote European archipelago comprising 18 islands and located halfway between Scotland and Iceland in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, is now offering virtual visitors the opportunity to direct local tour guides via a remote control.
Like so much of the world, the Faroe Islands has turned to virtual tourism after closing its borders to tourism in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike other virtual tours, however, this one allows users direct the exploration of the wild islands' waterfalls, mountains, and villages with local tour guides directed in real time with a video game-like remote control.
Here's how it works: Faroese island guides are outfitted with a live video camera that allows virtual tourists to not only see the Faroe Island scenery via an on-the-ground point of view but also control the guide via their computer, tablet, or phone key pad in real time. Control options include direction controls, as well as walk, run, and even jump controls.
These virtual tours, which are accesible here, tend to last an hour or so; each virtual visitor gets to control the guide for a minute. Guides explore the island on foot, in helicoptors, and on boats. During the tours, Visit Faroe Islands tourist board team members will be available on Instagram and Facebook to answer questions that virtual visitors may have.
"This new platform...enables those in isolation to take a walk across our wild landscapes and to explore beyond their own four walls," says Guðrið Højgaard, director of Visit Faroe Islands. “We believe that our remote islands are the perfect place to inspire people in lockdown—and, naturally, we hope to welcome them in person once everyone is free to travel again."
This is not the first tourism innovation developed by this tiny island destination: the Faroe Islands launched Google Sheep View (which saw sheep mapping the islands for Google Street View) in 2016 and Closed for Maintenance, Open for Voluntourism, during which saw the country closed to tourists for few days to host 100 volunteers who participated in environmental projects in 2019.
The Faroe Islands, which have a self-governance status within the Kingdom of Denmark, is home to about 52,000 people and 80,000 sheep; 130,000 tourists are estimated to have visited the archipelago in 2019.
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