Augmented Reality contents for cultural travel

In 2016, one in ten enterprises in the European non-financial business economy belonged to the tourism industries. These2.4 million enterprises employed an estimated 13.6 million persons. Enterprises in industries with tourism related activities accounted for 9.5 % of the persons employed in the whole non-financial business economy and 21.7 % of persons employed in the services sector. The tourism industries’ shares in total turnover and value added at factor cost were relatively lower, with the tourism industries accounting for 3.9 % of the turnover and 5.8 % of the value added of the nonfinancial
usiness economy. [EUROSTAT, 2020]
The World Travel & Tourism Council in its 2018 Report “Travel & Tourism. Economic Impact 2018. Europe” appraises tourism as one of the World’s largest economic sectors, exerting an upward push on job opportunities, exports and prosperity, as confirmed by the fact that the sector alone accounted for a 10.4% of global GDP and 313 million jobs, or 9.9% of total employment in 2017. Against the backdrop of the tourism industry, Cultural Tourism, meant as a sub-set in the general tourism offer centered on the enhancemente of the remarkable endowment of material and immaterial assets forming part of the wider European heritage (sites, traditions, food, handcraftsmanship etc.) makes up a sizeable component of the customer audience and of the business opportunities in the tourism field. European regions, countries and communities face the challenge of higher global tourism competition and diversification in the Cultural Tourism niche sector equipped with the capital of opportunities provided by the established dimension of entertainment, encounter, exchange and socialization embedded in the conspicuous number of local traditional and cultural festivals whereby local historic, traditional and cultural specificities (history, traditions, handcraftsmanship, food, beverages) are epitomized and embodied in live experience.
Europe is a key cultural tourism destination thanks to an incomparable cultural heritage that includes museums, theatres, archaeological sites, historical cities, industrial sites as well as music and gastronomy. It is estimated that cultural tourism accounts for 40% of all European tourism 4 out of 10 tourists choose their destination based on its cultural offering. [EC, 2018]

Building a virtuous cycle of visibility and innovative fruition is crucial for leveraging the added value of lesser-known festivals and cultural occasions rooted in peripheral and underdeveloped region of Europe, which objective requires not missing out on the opportunities and challenges of digital evolution alongside the framing of impacting enhancement strategies. As underlined by the Horizon Expert Group on Cultural Heritage (Getting Cultural Heritage to Work for Europe, 2015), “in many places, both urban and rural, rich cultural assets have not been recognized for the potential they hold to regenerate and renew”. With the power of enthralling human minds, AR is altering the game for marketers, and we will explore how Augmented Reality solutions can help travel sector. The technology is breaching innovative doors for the travel industry to improve their customer experience. However, the travel and tourism domain has already shown significant transitions with Augmented Reality. RECORD (Augmented Reality contents for cultural travel) promotes sustainable digital innovation in the tourism and tourism-related service offer connected with lesser- known traditional and cultural attractions in peripheral areas of Europe through interactive digital innovation grounded on Augmented Reality (AR) technologies.

Project offer:
• Web Platform with integrated a virtual repository with categorized details of existing offer (sites, museums, restaurants, retailers, pubs and taverns, collateral events).
• APP based on Augmented Reality providing customized information and tourism related services, divided per specific category of user and supported by animations and interactive contents.
• International Training of educators for testing the APP’s functionalities and developing training capacities of existing and prospective tourism/collateral service entrepreneurs and employees.
• Multiplier events with the involvement of local tourism and service providers, in whose context to introduce the Web Platform and APP, transferring knowledge for their operation.

Expected results achieved in the 30 months of the project are the following ones:
R1: 1 Virtual Database embedded in a specific Web Platform. The interactive functionalities of the Database will allow users to surf categorized information on
tourism offers and services (sites, museums, restaurants, retailers, pubs, and taverns, collateral events) based on set profile parameters, thereby setting the grounds for personalized tourism experiences.
R2: 1 APP compatible with Android and IOS configurations integrating Augmented Reality contents (animations, maps, interactive models, virtual tour guiding, etc.) to convey ondemand information about the material and immaterial heritage connected with individual events, alongside the related offer of tourist and collateral services will be displayed on users’ request with the support of animations and interactive contents.
R3: 1 Manual for operators in the field of VET produced for practical support to onthe-job training and vocational programmes focused on Augmented Reality in the cultural tourism field.