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Move over sheep — the Faroe Islands has a new tourism campaign.
The tiny island nation between Iceland and Norway, known for its “unspoiled” terrain and, perhaps more so for its 2016 “Sheep View” tourism project, which strapped cameras onto the backs of sheep to give people a sheep’s-eye view of the region, has launched a new project for those stuck in self-quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic: virtual tours.
The remote islands boast a population of about 53,000 people and 80,000 sheep. Now, for those wanting to tour the far-off island, you can – by controlling the movements of a local -- all from the comfort of your bedroom. Or your living room. Or, really, wherever your screen is.
The new tourism campaign offers remote viewers a look at the islands through the eyes of its locals. However, instead of just passively watching serene footage of lush greenery and raging waterfalls, the viewers can actually control the tour.
“We had an idea. What if we could allow people anywhere in the world to explore the islands as virtual tourists through the eyes of a local? Or even better; what if the virtual tourists could control the movements of the local in real time?” reads a posting about the “first of its kind” project.
“Via a mobile, tablet or PC, you can explore the Faroes’ rugged mountains, see close-up its cascading waterfalls and spot the traditional grass-roofed houses by interacting – live – with a local Faroese, who will act as your eyes and body on a virtual exploratory tour.”
It works like this: The resident is equipped with a live video camera, while the "virtual tourists" will use their touchscreen devices as joypads (the joypads will appear on the screen) to control the local by indicating where to “turn, walk, run or even jump.” Each viewer that tunes in will be allowed to control the local's movements for about 1 minute each.
“Just like a real-life computer game, you – the main player – will control the moves of the Faroese islander, who will not only explore locations on foot, but also take to the skies by helicopter, giving virtual visitors a bird’s eye perspective on our beautiful island nation’s steep grassy slopes, our 80,000 sheep and our unspoilt, wild and natural countryside.”
The virtual tours happen once a day, and each begins in a new location.
This isn’t the first out-of-the-box tourism campaign for the Faroe Islands (because, once again, there was the "Sheep View" project). The 18-island archipelago also shuts down once a year to all tourists, except those who volunteer to help clean up the coastline.