Just when we thought the Hawaii tourism industry couldn’t possibly be any more creative, they’ve upped the ante! Get ready for a virtual reality visitor experience that allows you to visit Hawaii from anywhere in the world… without leaving your couch.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has just announced it is introducing a virtual reality tour of Hawaii experience highlighted by 360-degree live-action footage using breathtaking imagery that instantly drops “visitors” into Hawaii from anywhere worldwide.

The entire experience will be unveiled at next week’s 2016 Hawaii Tourism Conference in Honolulu (VR stations will be placed in the conference Tech Hub of the Village Square for attendees to try out.). But, starting today, you can already download the technology and try it out!

You can download the platform starting on Sept. 26 on Steam.

According to the HTA, Hawaii VR will allow anyone anywhere in the world to experience anytime up-close all around them the welcoming culture, natural beauty, sunny weather and undeniable appeal of the Hawaiian Islands.

In fact, Leslie Dance, HTA vice president of marketing and product development, said, “Anyone who loves Hawaii or dreams about coming here is going to be amazed at how they can suddenly be in the islands whenever they want and capture the magic of being here. This virtual reality tour is a new platform for showcasing Hawaii’s culture and natural environment, the two pillars of our global appeal.”

Four islands, Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the island of Hawaii, are featured in the Hawaii VR experience. The virtual tour begins with the user floating as a paraglider through clear blue skies above the islands. The user selects an island to explore, then gently descends into the midst of a tour experience highlighting that island’s particular allure, environment and attractions. An island-based resident narrates as the tour guide, providing a personal perspective and advice on what to enjoy.

For tour companies like Hawaii Aloha Travel, the platform can help visitors virtually experience many of the Hawaii activities it offers to visitors, such as parasailing, surfing, and stand-up paddle boarding.

Hawaii VR combines cinematic virtual interFor example, The platform is designed to support tour companies like Hawaii Aloha Travel by helping potential visitors decide which island activities to choose — and whereactivity with live-action footage, a unique differentiation in virtual reality content, especially for promoting destination travel. Virtual sightseeing of spectacular landscapes, including coastlines, waterfalls and rainforests, is coupled with enticing activities, such as hula, surfing and catamaran sailing.

“This VR experience will be an educational tool for travelers, as well as travel trade professionals, about the diversity of the Hawaiian Islands and help inspire the booking of vacations,” said Dance.

At the conference, the virtual tour begins with the user floating as a paraglider through clear blue skies above the islands.

Hawaii VR is customized for mobile and tethered platforms. The gaze of a user’s eyes controls selections from a mobile device, while the tethered experience is operated with Vive controllers, as the user holds them in the same way as the handles of a paraglider.

Hawaii VR is being launched with virtual tours of Oahu and the island of Hawaii on HTC Vive and iPhone. On Sept. 26, it can be downloaded for HTC Vive on Steam and on the iOS App Store for iPhone using the search: Hawaii VR.

But, other platforms are coming soon: A version for Oculus Rift and Android smartphones will be introduced later this year and will coincide with the launch of virtual tour experiences for all four islands on all platforms.

Cant decide if you really want to visit Hawaii? Check-out the HTA’s new virtual reality tour of Hawaii platfor


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