While people are self-isolating and social distancing, many museums, historic sites and other tourism destinations in Virginia are offering virtual options for visitors to explore and learn.
Does the worst in travel times bring out the best in travel industry creativity?
Judging by the imagination shown by the likes of the Virginia Tourism Corporation at a time when the travel industry has pretty much gone into a tailspin the answer may well be a resounding yes.
The tourism corporation – which has a history of creative marketing, underscored by its long-running and widely acclaimed Virginia is for Lovers campaign – is promoting “online places to explore” in Virginia at a time when we’re being urged by health officials to self-isolate and practice social distancing.
A recent news release by the corporation listed around 16 Virginia attractions that are now “offering virtual options for visitors to explore and learn” – virtual options that can be undertaken from the safety of one’s home.
Unsurprisingly, given the state’s historical side – which includes many U.S. Civil War sites – many of the attractions revolve around history, such as Colonial Williamsburg, long a showcase for the United States of yesteryear.
It has been adding content to its Explore From Home colonialwilliamsburg.org/learn/explore-from-home/ website from “the people who bring history to life.”
Resources include guides for teachers, quizzes and puzzles for students, pages for exploring art collections and colouring sheets from The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, as well as libraries, archives and other cultural institutions.
The Virginia Museum of History & Culture in Richmond will be offering free online video content, webinars, student learning experiences and virtual tours at VirginiaHistory.org/AtHome.
Norfolk’s Virginia Zoo has a daily Virtual Voyage at 2 p.m. local time on its Facebook page, with “visitors able to go behind the scenes, tour the zoo and check in on their favourite animals.” The zoo’s Virtual Voyage website also offers “augmented reality tours, printable activity sheets, a YouTube video series and other offerings.”
Virginia Beach’s Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Centre is providing “entertaining, educational content to fans, including live streams, video footage, crafts for kids and behind-the-scenes peeks on its VirginiaAquarium.com website and social media channels.”
Along with its mission to educate people around the world through its robust digital presence, Mount Vernon’s YouTube channel also features a live stream of the estate’s newborn lambs.
Tourism corporation marketing specialist Bri Warner says the new promotion enables Virginia to connect with people unable to physically travel during the current environment.
“We just thought that many people… may want to take advantage of these tours and visit Virginia ‘virtually,’” she told Travel Courier. “Our tourism partners are working hard to come up with creative ideas and we wanted to share those ideas.”
Warner adds showcasing Virginia’s charms virtually may have tangible benefits for its tourism trade when things return to normal.
“Of course, if these virtual experiences inspire some folks to travel to Virginia once things return to normal it will be wonderful,” she states.