Thanks to a new partnership between UK’s national tourism agency, VisitBritain, and the world’s most popular search engine, Google, the Google Maps users can now virtually walk along the British streets.
The two organisations announced today (19 March 2009), the launch of Google Street View in the UK featuring 25 cities and towns from around Britain and Northern Ireland. Users of Google maps can use Street View to get an idea of some the sights they can enjoy while visiting Britain. They will be able to take a virtual walking tour of destinations from the nations’ capitals London, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh, and from Southampton to Aberdeen, Bristol to Norwich.
Last year, visits from overseas fell by two per cent in the face of the global economic downturn and increasing competition from rival destinations. Working with Google Street View, undertaking innovative partnerships and exploring new ways of presenting the appeals of Britain can give the country an edge and help it regain its place in the top five most popular destinations in the world.
VisitBritain has worked with Google to create a visual guide (called a maplet) directly in Street View which features sights in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds and Oxford. This maplet then links to Visit Britain’s global website, visitbritain.com, where users can explore some of its 1,000 destination guides. Each guide further inspires potential visitors or helps them plan their trip with information about where to stay, shop and eat out, as well as the attractions, events and experiences they can explore. The announcement comes as British tourism heads into another holiday season. This year an extra five million Brits may consider a holiday in their own country, while international visitors can enjoy Britain’s new affordability thanks to great exchange rates.
Mike Bedingfield, director of Britain marketing, says: “We’re very excited to be working with Google on the launch of Street View in the UK. The internet is an incredibly rich resource for raising awareness of destinations, driving travel to and around Britain. Street View is a real opportunity for us to showcase our destinations to millions worldwide.
“Seeing some of our globally-renowned attractions – a mix of old and new – up close, could inspire many more people to visit our shores. Our partnership with Google will also mean Street View explorers can find information about the different destinations and attractions, as well as value for money experiences, on www.visitbritain.com.”
Google’s Geospatial Technologist Ed Parsons said: “Salthouse Quay in Liverpool, Belfast City Hall, the Millennium Centre in Cardiff or St Paul’s Cathedral in London – these are just some of the delights that people up and down the country will now be able to visit, whatever the weather, right from their computer. Street View has been hugely popular with our users in Europe and worldwide and we’re thrilled it’s now available in UK for so many great cities, enabling users to see street-level panoramas of major city roads and look up and print out useful driving directions.”
For VisitBritain, the partnership with Google Street View is part of its strategy to ensure visitors are enticed to come to Britain. As well as helping plan a trip, Street View adds an extra element to the memories that visitors will share with friends and family when they return home – potentially inspiring them to visit in turn.
by Gary Illyes