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Virtual China in 3-D promoted

Updated: 2015-09-15 11:24
By LI JING in New York (China Daily USA)

Virtual China in 3-D promoted

Zhang Meifang, China's deputy consul general in New York, and Bill Riordan, publisher of Reuters.com, experience virtual scenes of China on Monday at Beautiful China campaign. Photo by Li Jing / China Daily

For the first time ever, China has adopted 3D virtual reality technology to promote tourism overseas, with New York the first stop on its global campaign, followed by Tokyo in December.

On Monday, "Experience Day" of the Beautiful China campaign was hosted at Reuters US Headquarters in New York's Times Square, presenting the natural beauty and cultural heritage of China through wearable virtual reality devices.

"It is amazing, a good opportunity to see what there is to see in China and experience it in a 3D way. It is a great ability to get that information without having to leave your seat," said publisher and editorial director Doug Cooke of Jax Fax Travel Marketing Magazine after trying a device to explore a temple. "I have never been to the temple. It looks real enough to interact with different parts of it, much better than just flat pictures."

Several of China's most famous landmarks were made available through the technology, including Beijing Olympic Park, Leshan's Giant Buddha and Hongcun Village. Landscapes are now available online and can be viewed via apps on smartphones.

The technology was developed by a 20-engineer team from China Intercontinental Communications Center, which also the organized the event. Team leader Xiang Xin said the most challenging part in the development was balancing the content between information and entertainment.

They have been working on the project since last September and plan to enhance the interactive aspects of the devices by adding more historical information and anecdotes.

"By the end of 2015, we plan to make 100 destinations and landmarks across China 3D virtual reality scenes. So far, we have finished 70 percent," he said. "In 2016 we plan to make 3D virtual reality scenes of the Seven Wonders of the World."

Zhang Meifang, China's deputy consul-general in New York, said the technology will help people in the US closely experience China's culture, landscapes and cuisines. After trying the headset for several minutes, she said, "It is a great experience, very different from what I had in 3D theaters. It is a good trial to combine Western techniques with Chinese culture."

Zhang said that the Chinese government supports exchanges between China and the US, which are not limited to the governmental level. "We pay equal attention to people-to-people exchanges, including cultural and tourism exchanges," she added.

Though virtual reality technology is widely used in video games, it is still new in the tourism industry, said Joshua Cohen of PR Newswire, who added the technology would draw in young people. "They will have interests on China and become eager to learn the country from an early age. It is a good start," Cohen said.

Jing Shuiqing, deputy director of China Intercontinental Communication Center, said, "Three-D virtual reality technology will be a new model for tourism and cultural exchanges. We hope the interactive virtual reality technology will help narrow the gap in the languages and cultures and bring more overseas tourists to China."

According to China National Tourism Administration, 26 million overseas travelers visited China in 2014, with 3 million from the United States, making it the largest source market.

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