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Geoparque of Viana do Castelo: a Smart Tourism initiative that combines conservation, education, tourism and technology | News - Ubiwhere



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APR 19 2021

Geoparque of Viana do Castelo: a Smart Tourism initiative that combines conservation, education, tourism and technology


The 19th of April 2021 marks when the Geoparque Litoral of Viana do Castelo is officially ready to receive tourists. The culmination of the project promoted by the Municipality of Viana do Castelo endowed the territory with innovative and technological conditions for the conservation and tourist enjoyment of the differentiated geological heritage of this territory.

The Geoparque Litoral of Viana do Castelo invites you to a long historical journey at a time when Portugal once belonged to the southern hemisphere. Now, it’s possible to learn from a visit to the Geopark, the 13 Natural Monuments and other geological heritage that comprises it. Viana do Castelo, always with the pride that is characteristic of it, shows a whole collection of heritage assets of a geological nature, combining them with the offer of a tourist and stimulating great experience, in line with the standards of Smart Tourism.

After an extensive and remarkable inventory and classification of heritage resources, the Geoparque Litoral de Viana do Castelo is ready to receive all visitors. The three reception gates of the Geoparque - Porta do Atlântico, Neiva and Arga - will be officially opened by the end of the month, thus marking the end of the consolidation phase of this initiative by the Viana do Castelo City Council. Whose mission translates into the conservation of the natural heritage from promoting its effective educational and tourist valorisation.

In this way, the Municipality now has a new tourist product, which was able to be compatible with Smart Destination and Smart Education trends and with the opportunities brought by Information Technologies.

According to Ricardo Carvalhido, City Councilor of Viana do Castelo and coordinator of the project: “After so many phases of this project, which has taken 15 years of development, and with so many institutions and personalities involved that I want to highlight and thank to all 27 together and parish unions and the seven groupings of schools in Viana do Castelo, the Institute Polytechnic of Viana do Castelo, and other higher education institutions (University of Minho, CIIMAR-UP, University of Coimbra, MARE), the UNESCO Portuguese Geoparks Forum, the Viana do Castelo Business Association and our municipal technicians. Furthermore, we want to have the best conditions to receive those who visit our schools and us. Arrived here, we must have a different tourist offer that provokes positive emotions in public, which idealises it. We believe that Technology has a contribution to make here. Likewise, we intend to contribute to having the best conditions to teach through differentiating strategies and curricular flexibility. Based on our identity heritage, complementing the entire path that we have been following for the past four years, we created two national icons - the School Science Network and the Curricular Grouping Differentiation and Flexibility Teams.

That is why Geoparque today has technological tools in line with Smart Tourism standards. With the collaboration of Ubiwhere, a Portuguese high-tech specialist and leader in the Smart Cities and Smart Tourism domains, a plan and respective tools were developed that promote a qualification of the tourist experience for the user/visitor. Also, it guarantees the collection of useful metrics for the monitoring and performance of the tourism product.

The Geoparque’s app allows you to guide the visitor through all the diversity of heritage and geological resources, favouring their visibility and recognition. Using the Augmented Reality module, the visitor can access additional informative content through an interactive activated experience using a smartphone. On the other hand, the geofencing mechanism allows the quantification of the time spent by the user with a given resource, which, complemented with the visit evaluation functionality, allows the collection of solid inputs for the measurement of the tourist interest of the resources that integrate the Geoparque.

Other resources to support visitation were designed and installed: Portas do Geoparque are equipped with interactive panels, from which you can access cartographic elements, textured 3D objects, photography and panoramic animations. The panels were developed to promote a simple and intuitive interaction, with the support of multiple touches simultaneously, high precision and low latency in response to the touch.

For Nuno Ribeiro, co-CEO of Ubiwhere, the Smart Destination project for the Geoparque Litoral of Viana do Castelo “is a challenging project and very rewarding to the level of involvement of people and entities committed to its success”.

The Geoparque Litoral of Viana do Castelo extends for more than 320 km2. Since September 2017, it has been recognised by the Portuguese Forum of Geoparks of UNESCO as an aspiring member of the world network. It’s possible to visit from today.