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Artisan village to feature AR and VR tech at Falmouth cruise pier

Tourism officials will be incorporating augmented reality and virtual reality experiences at the Falmouth Cruise Pier.

The AR and VR offerings are marketing tools to woo business to the artisan village there.

Based on the advice of consultants, the plan involves using the 19th century architecture in the town to add interactive features to stores and landmarks that integrate with apps on smartphones. AR involves the addition of animations or added information on top of existing physical structure or signage, while VR involves creating totally new worlds using digital animation.

Falmouth is the first of five artisan villages to be developed with funding from the The Tourism Enhancement Fund, a unit of the Ministry of Tourism. The other four villages are slated for the resorts of Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Port Antonio and Negril.

Black River remains under consideration, as a possible sixth site, said Delano Seiveright, senior strategist in the tourism ministry.

The villages are designed as a complex of stores that sell curated craft. The tourism ministry is targeting original craft that can serve as quality souvenirs, in an upgrade to the current offerings that the typical craft market and vendors ply to tourists.

The inclusion of a tech experience at Falmouth is meant to draw new revenue through ticket sales and hosting of celebratory events targeted at locals, such as birthday parties.

“Patrons will have to pay for these unique immersive experiences at the village. Furthermore, it is hoped that visitors will return to the attraction numerous times, generating additional money from repeat visitors,” said Seiveright.

The Falmouth artisan village soft opened last year to coincide with the first cruise ship return since the onset of the pandemic. At least two vendors reported that very few cruise passengers entered the village despite their curated craft.

Following that soft opening, the TEF put out a tender for AR features at the Falmouth villages geared at enhancing shopping and sightseeing, according to the filings. Those bids closed on May 31.

“The use of AR/VR technology enables the creation of interactive and immersive designed to entertain and engage visitors, enhancing their overall travel experience,” Seiveright said.

The artisan village was initially to make its d?but at the same time as the Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier was commissioned in 2011, but was delayed. It eventually launched when the cruise industry began recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

The AR/VR offering will link the artisan village to the Ministry of Tourism via a microsite to be developed by the winning bidder.

The microsite will provide information about the shop on the site as well as the offerings. Visitors will be encouraged to post and share pictures of their activities at Falmouth, as one way of spreading the word about the village to prospective customers.

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