Promoting Local Tourism with AR Enhanced App for Birdwatchers
Social distancing is easing in many places and more activities are becoming available, especially outside. So why not to use this time to explore various remote sites with the hope of meeting fewer people and more wildlife, especially birds.
One of the most diverse and rich regions in Lithuania lies in the Western part, where our largest river Neman drains into the Curonian Lagoon. The lowlands area provides perfect conditions for more than 300 bird species to nest and fascinating landscapes to see. That is why the birds became the main stars for our app developed to entice tourists to visit these often remote locations and discover unique landmarks.
The app Birds’ Routes (Paukščių Kelias in Lithuanian), available for Android and iOS, was created in collaboration with the tourism information centre of Šilutė region. The region is famous for spring floods that submerge great territories, which in turn forms the unique landscape and makes it a naturally protected area. The region has more than 320 cultural heritage sites including architecture, archaeology and maritime locations. To guide visitors through the most interesting sites, together with the tourism centre we decided to use another of the region’s abundant resources — birds.
Our own guide was the man most experienced in this area — a nature photographer Boris Belchev. Together with him, we discussed the best approach to move forward and agreed to start from two things: the lists of most famous birds of the region and the points of interest for the visitors. Armed with a huge collection of Boris’ photos of birds and locations, and his stories about the region, we were ready to start working.
Birds’ Routes focuses on several things and provides additional entertainment and educational incentive when travelling through the region’s spots. First, the tourist is presented with a selection of suggested places to visit.
In each of these destinations, there are special QR codes which connect to the app and unlock the “hide and seek” minigame where you need to find birds in the landscape.
Once found, the bird is introduced with more information and added to your collection. It should encourage tourists to visit more places and collect all the birds.
And then there is a fun surprise, but we’ll talk about it in a minute…
The specifics of the region and the goals which the tourism centre wanted to achieve with this app provided us with several main things to think of.
1. Noting popular regional landmarks
As the regional park is regarded throughout the country they wanted us to showcase their long-lasting but not so well known sites.
2. Helping to reach distant locations
Due to the fact that most of the sites are remote and sometimes hard to access we needed to make it easier for tourists to find the right way.
3. Showcasing the local birds
There are more than 300 bird species living or migrating throughout the region each year and we were given some of the most notable ones to highlight.
1. Landmark access during different seasons
Due to the spring and winter floods, we added probable danger signs for each landmark. All signs are changing over the time of the year.
2. Showing the way to the regions
Including Google Maps into the app was a critical feature. We had to show the way for the tourists, especially those visiting the first time. The map makes them feel welcomed to join the adventure we created.
3. Bringing birds to life
Implementing Augmented Reality into the app was the most fun part of making Birds’ Routes and we hope visitors will really appreciate it. After visiting the noted landmarks you get an achievement and unlock the animated birds. They become alive on your phone screen and you can take pictures in the surroundings you choose.
Time to travel again?
Whenever you’ll feel comfortable to travel a bit and spend time in nature, we really encourage visiting Šilutė region and many unique places formed in Neman river delta and Curonian lagoon. Our app Birds’ Routes will definitely help to find the best spots, easily reach remote locations and find out about many interesting birds.