The city of Manila has had a huge boost in local and foreign tourists thanks to efforts of its community and local government. Walking tours popularized by the late Carlos Celdran give a very immersive experience one couldn’t get from just going around historic places around the capitol. Just recently, Fort Santiago has opened to tourists and there are always weekend bazaars around Intramuros, the famous walled city.
Tourists and culture buffs can now immerse themselves in the past of Intramuros via their mobile phones. Experience Philippines, an augmented reality application available on iOs and Android, houses a treasure chest of visuals and information about the famed walled city of Manila. This innovative tourism application is a joint project of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and iACADEMY, a school in Makati that offers specialized courses on computing, business, and design. To download the free app, simply key in “Experience Philippines” on Google Play or the App Store.
The AR feature currently works only on the DOT logo and certain sites in Intramuros. These include the Gallery of Presidents, the Fort Santiago Gate, the Ayuntamiento, the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, and the Churches of our Lady of Lourdes, of San Ignacio, of San Francisco, and of Recollects. To activate, simply tap on the “ARTech” button and point at the tourist site.
“With the Experience Philippines app, tourists can relive the past of Intramuros city with just a tap on their mobile phone screens,” says DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
“We hope to be able to expand this cutting-edge technology to other tourist sites around the country with the help of iACADEMY,” adds the DOT chief. Tourist sites that the DOT is eyeing for AR development include the Banaue Rice Terraces, Corregidor, Mt. Samat, Puerto Princesa, Pampanga and Mt. Pinatubo.
Intramuros Administration Administrator Atty. Guiller B. Asido believes the app will help attract more visitors to the city. “Culture buffs will enjoy Intramuros more with this app as they will be able to see how Fort Santiago and other historical sites looked like before,” says Atty. Asido.
iACADEMY meantime says technology can be used to promote sustainable tourism. “We saw the opportunity to give back and share our expertise on tech and design to provide cutting edge materials that can help boost our tourism efforts,” says iACADEMY Chief Operating Officer Raquel Wong. “Production of short films and augmented reality content to showcase the Philippines not only makes it more accessible and experiential but it’s also sustainable because it doesn’t require mass print production,” adds Wong.
The Experience Philippines app also serves as a compact version of the www.philippines.travel site, which allows tourists to learn and explore their dream travel destinations online.