Visitors and residents alike have a new and COVID-safe way to explore Brandon thanks to the creation of two self-guided audio walking tours that visit some of the city’s most noteworthy historical sites.
Launched earlier this month, these self-guided audio walking tours were produced by Brandon Tourism and Heritage Brandon. The tours are available through the Tripvia app, which connects users to self-guided audio driving and walking tours for locations all across North America, providing audio commentary along with trivia questions at each point of interest on the tour route.
The app works through a technology called "geo-fencing." When you enter a certain area, or "geo-fence" during the tour, your GPS location will trigger an audio clip that then provides you with information about the tour stop where you currently are.
Although the public safety measures brought in by the pandemic have created challenges for tourism organizations, those organizations have found ways to adapt.
"What we’ve really been focusing on since COVID hit us is (asking) how can we still promote tourism in a safe and responsible way," said James Montgomery, general manager of Brandon Riverbank Inc.
Montgomery attributes most of the walking tours project to Brandon Riverbank tourism co-ordinator Lanny Stewart, who was unavailable for comment.
"Lanny had been looking into different partnerships … and I think the one that he found there, the app is a perfect fit. Especially during COVID it’s even more appropriate to try to give people things to do that are safe to do in the environment that we’re in," Montgomery said.
There are two different tours to choose from. The first tour is called Downtown West. Beginning at Brandon City Hall, this tour takes you to prominent historic buildings located all over downtown Brandon, including the city’s first school, the Federal Building, Daly House Museum and the Central Fire Station.
Downtown West includes 26 points of interest, is estimated to be about 3.5 kilometres in length and should take around an hour and a half to complete.
The second tour is called Heritage Homes. As its name suggests, this tour explores some of Brandon’s many historic houses and the stories of the people who lived there. Other significant buildings and points of interest on this tour include the Brandon Armoury, the Brandon College and Clark Hall buildings and Stanley Park.
Heritage Homes has 31 tour stops along 4.5 kilometres and is about an hour and a half in length.
At each point of interest, an audio tour guide will provide listeners with some historical information and fun facts about that site. Written transcripts of each stop’s commentary are also accessible through the Tripvia app.
As COVID-19 changes the way people are able to travel, Montgomery said pandemic-friendly tourism activities like the self-guided tours provide ways for people to still explore new places — just a bit closer to home.
"It’s been a tough year, obviously, for Brandon Tourism and tourism in general," Montgomery said. "Lanny’s done a really good job of providing people an opportunity to things that are safe and for encouraging things like staycations and encouraging people to (visit) places in Brandon and in close proximity that ... maybe people don’t, wouldn’t normally do."
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