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With VR tour Delaware 360, tourism goes high tech

How do you convince people Delaware is worth visiting? You take them there — virtually.

Gov. John Carney tries out Delaware 360. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

When Delaware Tourism Director Liz Keller shows pictures of the state to people at national trade shows, the reaction is often disbelief.

“People thought we were lying to them,” she said.

Lots of people from other parts of the country just don’t think about Delaware as a place with stunning natural vistas and spectacular gardens.

One of Delaware’s most spectacular gardens is the Nemours Estate in Wilmington, once owned by Alfred I. du Pont, whose namesake is the nearby Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.

“It rivals anything in Versailles,” Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock said, gesturing to the lavish gardens just outside, as he helped launch the Delaware Tourism Office’s newest feature: Delaware 360, a virtual tour of Trap Pond State Park, Rehoboth Beach and the Nemours Estate.

You can check out Delaware 360 yourself, with or without a VR headset.

Try it out

The VR tour is geared toward potential tourists from out of state.

“The tourism industry is vitally important to Delaware,” said Bullock. “The sector employs 43,000 people, thanks in large part to the hard work and ingenuity of small business owners and entrepreneurs, who are the backbone of the state’s economy.”

2016 was a record year for Delaware tourism, with 9 million visitors contributing about $3.3 billion.

“As tourism grows,” said Keller, “so does the technology behind it.”

(Fun fact: according to John Rumm, executive director of the Nemours Estate, Alfred I. du Pont was a bit of a techie himself — he had worked on a prototype of an early 20th-century music delivery service that would send songs to you by telephone. “I think he would approve [of the VR tour of his estate],” said Rumm.)

Gov. John Carney, who worked on the grounds of the Nemours Estate as an undergrad in the 1970s, was the first to take it for a test drive at the launch.

Footage from the VR experience showing a sunset over a large body of water.

Looks nice! (Photo by Holly Quinn)

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