Sudbury·Audio

Indigenous Tourism Ontario working on virtual reality tours

Indigenous Tourism Ontario is working to develop new online tools to help tourism operators survive the pandemic and beyond.

Group hoping to implement online tours next year

Work is underway to develop virtual reality tours that would feature Indigenous tourism operators. (Jonathan Collicott/CBC)

Indigenous Tourism Ontario is working to develop new online tools to help tourism operators survive the pandemic and beyond.

Kevin Eshkawkogan, head of the group, says before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there was increasing global demand for Indigenous tourism.

He says they are currently working with businesses to create virtual reality tours.

"So people buying that would need a headset, they're going to get a full 360 view of the experience, because there's cameras that allow you to capture that footage," he said.

Eshkawkogan says a business like Mukwa Adventures, which offers ATV rides, could use technology like this.

"He's only got so many ATVs that he can take people out on the land and teach them different things," he said.

"But if you imagine … how much more accessible his business if he could do a virtual tour."

He says they are now in the midst of creating online content that can be rolled out a number of ways. 

"So the model we're creating, we'd like to see people progress down the chain," he said. 

Kevin Eshkawkogan is the head of Indigenous Tourism Ontario. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

"Like they might first experience that short little marketing piece. Then they might go online and do a virtual experience, which is a little more simple and very accessible. And then they might subscribe to a virtual reality experience because they may never plan to travel."

Eshkawkogan says they hope to start rolling out the first tours by next year.

"We just want to help tell the Indigenous story on Indigenous terms while helping business operators who are Indigenous grow their business," he said.

Find out more about touring northern Ontario from the comfort of your couch. A group called Indigenous Tourism Ontario is working on virtual reality tours to help meet increasing global demand for Indigenous tourism. 4:49

With files from Wendy Bird

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