Digital Tourism as Catalyst for Economic Development
Scotland’s towns and local authorities can harness the latest digital technologies as a catalyst for the overall economic development of a region. A great example is the town of Lanark, an epitome of the economic challenges faced across Scotland whole.
Today the town is symptomatic of these broader economic difficulties, with the high street a showcase of deprivation, such as the derelict Royal Oak hotel and similarly run down old Regal cinema across the road.
We believe a Digital Tourism strategy with global ambitions will act as the ignition for a scale of economic growth that entirely transforms the town, injecting a new lease of life, boosting revenues for all local businesses and creating many new jobs.
Walk in the Footsteps of William Wallace
Digital Tourism can act as the catalyst for igniting a wholesale rejuvenation of Scotland’s towns like Lanark, by using the latest Social Cloud platforms and all they offer, a particular specialism of Digital Scotland.
Yes VisitScotland lists the town, and the town has a web site, but these can be described as “Web 1.0” approaches, flat web sites that only provide static information. In this day and age a web experience is formed through an aggregation of Twitter feeds, Instagram picture sharing, Youtube travel blogs and so forth, a rich media and community interaction engagement.
The town has a unique historical story, being the famous location of William Wallace killing the town sheriff and igniting the Scottish Wars of Independence.
As highlighted in ‘Harnessing the Outlander Effect‘, this type of rich storytelling is ideal for social content marketing; when published via the right type of platform it can fuel regular high frequency updates to social media that reaches millions across the world, engaging them via “brands” they know of through movies and TV, such as Braveheart and The Outlaw King, but don’t necessarily connect to the real places they are based on.
It also needs to embrace and utilize all the traditional tourism marketing assets, for example the William Wallace story is locked away in a PDF document, as is the heritage map. There is also a paper pamphlet available that describes a walking tour of the history of Wallace that you can follow to visit all the related attractions.
However of course you have to actually be in Lanark to pick one up, and so digitizing all of these offline assets is the essence of a Digital Tourism strategy. As described above the goal is for this content to engage potential visitors before they choose their vacation.
Travel Portal Features
All kinds of fun digital innovations could be achieved, creating interactive maps, treasure hunts, curating Youtube travel blogger visits and so on, just some of the many features the portal site will offer and that can be used to devise highly attractive tourist experiences.
For example the ‘Soldiers of Killiecrankie‘ is an annual historic battle enactment event, celebrating the Battle of Killiecrankie, a 1689 fight of the First Jacobite Rising between a Jacobite force of Scots and Irish and those of the new Williamite government. The Jacobites won a stunning victory but suffered heavy casualties, their commander John Graham, Viscount Dundee being killed in the final minutes.
A number of activities are run on the day including a themed treasure hunt, a game for children that includes them collecting play cards to learn about the main characters involved.
As well as the usual place information, maps and local vendor e-commerce stores, functionality to enable this type of fun membership will also be built into the portal, “gamifying” the site through rewarding points and showing a leaderboard of the best visitor players, making it ideal for family visits.
From Skull to Collarbone
Augmented Reality is another technology that could be used to great effect. As the feature video highlight is has been used in the Highlands in the same way, and in Lanark there is even already an ideal starting point.
As the Carluke Gazette reports, a project featuring Art Pistol Projects, famous for murals such as Billy Connolly’s in Glasgow, and the local high school decorated a drab close that links the high street with car parks, indeed it’s the Wallace Close, with the artwork depicting an aspect of William Wallace’s life in Lanark – from marrying Marion Braidfute at St Kentigern’s Church, to slaying Sheriff Heselrig before fleeing into the Clyde woodlands.
Imagine what fun it would be to bring this close to life through augmented reality – Who wouldn’t like to see the Sheriff take a broadsword from Wallace from skull to collarbone! -splat-
In conclusion the central point is that all of the resources, active local organizations and momentum is there – For example the artwork was commissioned and led by the Lanark Trust, who I’m sure would be game for being filmed to create the AR footage! 🙂
All that’s missing is this overarching digital strategy and platform – An initiative to provide a banner to co-ordinate all local economic development initiatives under, and a window to the world to showcase what an exciting tourism experience awaits visitors from all over the globe to come and participate in.