Oxford is one of twelve cities in England that has been awarded a share of £250,000 to develop an innovative new augmented reality project to bring its heritage to life and increase its appeal with younger audiences.

The project is one of a number of projects to receive funding from the £40m Discover England Fund, administered by VisitEngland. The Fund is a central government funded programme of activity, supported by match funding by partners in the public and private sectors. Its aim is to ensure that England stays competitive in the rapidly growing global tourism industry by offering world-class English tourism products to the right customers at the right time.

The project will use technology to bring heritage to life and develop new content that will increase the appeal of England’s heritage with the under 35 market in the US. Each of the twelve iconic heritage sites and experiences will be interpreted using techniques such as augmented reality. This new content will be turned into a set of tools for the travel trade helping them to sell and showcase the breadth and quality of England’s heritage.

In Oxford, Experience Oxfordshire will be focusing on bringing the Bodleian Library to life by giving visitors a sense of its history when they visit.

Distribution of the new products will be through online travel agencies, trade partners, the app store, and direct to consumers booking breaks in any of the 12 destinations.

Hayley Beer-Gamage, Chief Executive at Experience Oxfordshire, said: “This is an exciting and innovative project that will enable us to bring Oxford’s Bodleian Library to life in new ways, supporting our aim to reach new audiences and showcase the city’s iconic heritage.”

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe, said: “We had an exceptionally high number of submissions, far outweighing the allocated funding available, and following a rigorous applications process we are delighted to work closely with those excellent winners on building world-class ‘bookable’ tourism products showcasing the best of England to international and domestic visitors.”

“This is a great way for the project to showcase their inspirational heritage offer, harnessing the power of technology to capture the imagination of a new market.”

The Heritage Cities project builds on last year’s successful campaign that promoted England’s Heritage Cities to French visitors.

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