How virtual reality could bring real money to Louisiana

MADISONVILLE, LA -- When Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser kicked off Tourism Week on Monday, some members of his team were also showing off a new tool that aims to attract more visitors to the state.  It's a virtual reality program that gives people a taste of the experiences waiting for them in Louisiana.

The system depends on 360 degree video and a headset that users wears to cover their eyes.  As they turn their head in any direction, the video shifts to reveal more of the 360 degree images.  One moment you're looking at a musical performance, and by turning your head to the side, you can see the audience.

Or perhaps you're looking forward from inside a boat that's motoring through a swamp, and as you turn your head, you see the trees all around you.  Turn your head toward the back of the boat and you'll see the motor.

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Nungesser's team plans to take the virtual reality set to as many major tourism conventions and meetings as possible.  Workers hope that tour operators will see the attractions in Louisiana like never before and be more enthused about booking trips for tourists to visit the state.

But there's another use for the technology.  Two airlines recently announced that they would offer direct flights from Europe to Louis Armstrong International Airport.  One flight will come from Germany and the other from England.

Tourism workers plan to take the virtual reality technology on visits to both countries for meetings with tour operators there.  Nungesser hopes to convince those operators to book new tours that take advantage of the direct flights to New Orleans.