A screenshot of Visit Philadelphia's new virtual reality initiative on its website，VISITPHILLY.COM/VR
Destination marketing organization Visit Philadelphia has launched a virtual reality initiative, so residents and visitors will be able to get 360-degree tours of famed Philadelphia landmarks like the 72 Rocky Steps.
Philadelphia last year hit hotel occupancy of 78 percent, according to CBRE Hotels, citing data by hotel data firm STR, meaning occupancy increased by nearly 1.7 percent over 2015, which was already a banner year for the city, and the highest occupancy the city's had in 70 years.
To make sure visitation continues its upward streak, Visit Philadelphia — the destination marketing organization geared toward the leisure traveler — earlier in January laid out its 2017 marketing plans, which include the use of virtual reality.
The time has come. Visit Philadelphia on Friday debuted a new 360-degree photo, video and virtual reality experience on its website.
The initiative was first announced by President and CEO Meryl Levitz in January during the organization's eighth annual New Year's breakfast at the Independence Seaport Museum.
“Every day we give online visitors compelling reasons to plan a trip to Philadelphia, and we believe this new view of the city will give the 20 million people who use visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com each year even more reasons to visit and do more while they’re here,” Levitz said on Friday.
Viewable on visitphilly.com from desktop, smartphone or tablet devices, the experience spotlights more than two dozen Philadelphia sites and attractions— more than half of which are in Philadelphia’s Historic District.
Highlights include the 72 Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Franklin Institute’s rotunda, which houses the 20-foot Benjamin Franklin National Memorial.
Virtual reality is a growing industry, one that is expected to grow from a $5.2 billion market in 2016 to a $162 billion market in 2020, according to Business Insider.
It's also part of a local trend. A number of Philadelphia organizations are incorporating VR, The Franklin Institute, which last year invested in its online and digital presence through a first-of-its-kind virtual reality initiative.
Visit Philadelphia worked with YouVisit, a New York-based virtual reality production and technology company, for its own VR initiative. YouVisit has worked for destinations like New York and Paris to create more than 1,000 virtual experiences.
Kenneth Hilario covers hospitality, restaurants and takes on general assignments and breaking news.