While we may not be able to physically travel, destinations around the world have put incredible resources online so we can see the world from home. This week we feature 7 destinations around the world with virtual tourism resources that are free for anyone to enjoy.
We are currently living in a new normal with a majority of the world sheltering in their homes in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19. As such, almost all leisure travel globally has come to a screeching halt as we all spend the vast majority of our days inside our homes. In response, many cities and countries around the world have made available online a number of resources not only to keep people at home occupied, but to also prompt them to start thinking about their first trip once these restrictions have been lifted.
I’ve been very impressed by the travel industry response to the pandemic, and I’ve been especially impressed by the incredible resources and experiences that are now all available online free of charge. In this week’s podcast I invited a number of these destinations on the program to share what they’ve done to make their communities accessible virtually. We don’t only talk about virtual experiences though, we also chat about everything there is to see and do in their destinations in the hopes that tourism will return to normal quickly once it is safe to do so.
Below are links to the resources mentioned in the podcast, as well as more information about the guests on this week’s program.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
To learn more about the virtual offerings in OKC please visit this dedicated website.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has created this website for all COVID-19 related information, including virtual tourism opportunities.
Destination Niagara USA
To access the virtual experiences offered by Niagara Falls USA visit this website.
Reno-Tahoe Territory, Nevada
The Reno-Tahoe Territory includes several different communities, many of which offer virtual experiences. Visit their main website to learn more as well as these specific websites.
- Step back in time with a view of Virginia City, where virtual guests can view this 1800s mining town, left pretty much as it was back in the day.
- Take in a dose of calm as Lake Tahoe’s waters ripple in the wind with a live view from North Lake Tahoe.
- Carson City, Nevada’s capital, displays the wide-open and scenic Carson Range where glimpses of lush spring are peaking through.
This week’s guests
Kirsten Schmidt (Representing Berlin, Germany)
Agency founder Kirsten Schmidt brings a unique bi-cultural and bi-continental background to her work. Born and raised in Germany, she moved to Los Angeles in 1986, where she continued her education and started her travel industry career. She founded KMS Communications, Inc. in 2001, and has since enjoyed getting the word out on international destinations, services and brands. Following her passion for travel, Kirsten started touring her native Europe in her teens – and so far has visited some 43 countries. Her enthusiasm for travel has shaped her career and fuels her desire to give her clients the greatest possible commitment and expertise. She holds a Masters Degree in English, Business Administration and Spanish, and a Professional Designation in Public Relations.
Tabbi Burwell (Representing Oklahoma City)
Tabbi Burwell is the Senior Manager of Destination Communications for Visit OKC where she manages both their social media strategy as well as all communication efforts. Tabbi is a 13-year board member for the Public Relations Society of America Oklahoma City Chapter and volunteers her time in the community all while keeping busy with two toddlers at home.
Jenny Bell (Representing Fayetteville, North Carolina)
Jenny Bell is a displaced Texan who now proudly calls Fayetteville, North Carolina her “adopted hometown.” As the Communications & Social Media Specialist for the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, she manages their social media pages and researches and writes their Go Fayetteville blog.
Alistair Leuner (Representing Tintswalo Safari Products)
Alistair Leuner hails from Johannesburg but spent parts of his childhood in Etosha, Namibia, where he loved listening to stories told by his father of chasing leopards and lions. Leuner worked at several other prestigious lodges both during and following his studies, including as a Field Guide at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve where in 2010 he was promoted twice within two years, first to Head Ranger of Earth Lodge, and then Assistant Lodge Manager and Guide at Selati Camp. He then tried his hand at a more corporate role, working for Southern Cross Marketing and Management Services in Stellenbosch from 2012 to 2014, after which he joined Tintswalo Safari Lodge as a Game Ranger. Within a few months he was promoted to Assistant Head Ranger, and then Head Ranger in 2015. A year later he took up the position of General Manager of Operations, before being appointed General Manager in June 2017 and later promoted to Regional General Manager Tintswalo Safari Products.
Andrew Cothern (Representing the Commonwealth of Virginia)
Andrew Cothern is the Communications Manager for Virginia Tourism Corporation. Virginia Tourism Corporation is the state agency charged with marketing the Commonwealth as a premier travel and film destination. In 2018, visitors to Virginia spent $26 billion, which supported 235,000 work opportunities and contributed $1.8 billion in state and local taxes.
Krystina Iacovelli (Representing Destination Niagara USA)
Krystina Iacovelli is the Communications Manager at Destination Niagara USA, the official destination marketing organization for Niagara Falls, NY and Niagara County. Krystina is responsible for assisting incoming media to the destination, as well as assisting with the development of content on the official Niagara Falls USA website.
Deny Dotson (Representing Reno-Tahoe Territory, Nevada)
Deny Dotson joined the Virginia City Tourism Commission in 2011 as the Executive Director of Storey County’s new Fair and Recreation Board. Prior to joining the VCTC, Dotson worked for Storey County as the Director of Community Services for four years where he managed all of Virginia City’s special events from development to implementation as well as the Parks and Recreation Department, website management and served as the county’s Public Information Officer and liaison to all of Storey County’s non-profit organizations. Prior to that, Dotson was a Sales/Account Manager for Anheuser Busch, Earthgrains and Sara Lee. Throughout his 20 plus years in the baking industry, he has had the fortune of being involved in several national marketing and advertising campaigns, new product and market introductions and account management for several regional and national customers. He credits this extensive sales and marketing experience for establishing the foundation for his current position with Storey County and the visitor’s bureau.