Virtual tours of region attract overseas viewers
A NORTHERN Rivers tour operator turned pandemic restrictions into an online opportunity that is gathering fans across the world.
Vision Walks Eco Tours owner and operator, Wendy Bithell, said she decided to have a go at online tours because she had a background in broadcasting after working for the BBC in the UK.
"I started doing the virtual tours when the lockdown was on, because people weren't able to go out into nature," she said.
"I started with pre-recorded virtual tours, I put them up on YouTube and they were getting some nice traction.
"But what I wanted to do was some live walks, so I decided to use Zoom while out and about and get people to join the Zoom call, so I can talk to them and walk with them like a regular tour."
Ms Bithell ensured the technology worked, and found spots where internet signal and wildlife co-existed.
The Byron Shire resident said she discovered a tour agency in Singapore that asked her to do virtual tours for them.
"They have given me quite a good audience, doing it for people all around the world, although at the moment is mostly India and Singapore," she explained.
"My most popular one is the koala tour, so I go out an hour before and I scout where the actual koalas are, and then I bought a telephoto lens for my phone so I can zoon right in the koala.
"Next weekend I'll be doing a virtual koala and a Cape Byron virtual tour, walking around at sunset, looking for dolphins and whales, and talking about the history of the area," she said.
She is also considering the idea of virtual tours of Nimbin and other areas of the Northern Rivers.
Ms Whithell also has regular night tours for small groups and families, with special discounts for Northern Rivers locals.
Virtual tours are happening twice a week and bookings are available via https://visionwalks.com.au/index.php/virtual-tours/