Businesses offer virtual Google tours

Tourists coming to Cork can now take a 360-degree virtual tour on Google of the interiors of local pubs, restaurants, and hotels before going on to visit the venues in reality.

Michael Reidy, proprietor of Le Chateau Bar, Patrick Street, Cork

Even for those who have previously viewed Google Maps and Street View, going indoors really takes the experience up a notch.

First to feature in Cork include city centre pubs such as Long Valley, Le Chateau, and Market Lane. You can visit Curran’s Restaurant, and shortly, hotels such as the Rochestown Park and Carrigaline Court.

For tourists, it will be a great tool to plan their visit. For an old-style bar such as Le Chateau — on St Patrick’s Street since 1793, one of the city’s oldest businesses — the online tour looks sure to deliver visitors. Proprietor Michael Reidy said: “People don’t come here for the weather, they come to Ireland to experience something different. The success the English Market has enjoyed since the Queen’s visit proved that.”

The photos in the virtual tours completed thus far have all been taken by certified “Google-trusted photographer” John Roche, a freelance photographer based in Carey’s Lane.

He has teamed up with web design specialist JamJo to ensure online viewers enjoy a rich visual experience. Viewers walk into what seems like a moving floor-to-ceiling view of the building’s interior, a view which is in reality a series of images stitched seamlessly into a continuous flow. Mr Roche said: “This is much better than watching a video. It is far more interactive, with the viewers controlling where they want to go in the premises. It is a series of images that are drawn together using software provided by Google.”

He believes the depth of insight offered by this service will bring a lot of new tourists to Cork City centre. He also believes businesses in the county and neighbouring Kerry will want to get on board.

To see the Business Photos program in action, go to Google Maps, key in the business name and street name, and drag the little human icon onto it.

For examples of John Roche’s photography and more information about the virtual tours and Street View, see www.johnroche.com

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