Wesgro adds immersive experience to WCape tourism

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Wesgro is turning to the metaverse to further boost the Western Cape as the holiday destination of choice.

In a statement, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape says it will launch an eco-themed game and build the area in the metaverse, in order to emphasise the diversity of the natural spaces of the Cape.

This move, it notes, will result in a series of educational, nature-themed games starring some of the Western Cape’s popular destinations brought to life in a gamified way.

The game will launch on online game platform and game creation system Roblox, according to Wesgro.

Wrenelle Stander, CEO of Wesgro, comments: “The world is changing, and we’re ready to meet that change. With immersive digital experiences already creating a captive audience, our game will allow kids to learn about the incredible biodiversity of the province.

“This includes learning about our national flower, the King Protea, and over 1 460 different species of plants, 300 of which are highly endangered. On the fauna side, special attention will be given to species such as the leopard frog and tortoise, dassies (the distant cousins of elephants) and the elusive Cape fox.”

Dubbed the next evolution of social connection, the metaverse is a virtual reality space where users in different parts of the globe can interact with each other and with virtual beings in a computer-generated environment.

South Africa’s metaverse market is expected to gain popularity this year, as more local companies dabble with immersive technologies to deliver operational and revenue improvements.

The tourism agency notes its game will start with Cape Town’s Table Mountain climb and then move into the Western Cape. It adds the team is already working on iterations that include exploring the beaches and kelp forests of the Garden Route, as well as camping and stargazing in the Cederberg.

Jean Scheltema, Wesgro chief marketing and communications officer, adds: “Edtech and gaming are more entwined now than ever before. We’re building assets for audiences of the future, turning to the popular Roblox platform as first port of call to let kids experience the diverse natural spaces of the Western Cape.

“Globally, we’re seeing the move to an internet that’s less flat. We want to use the potential of the metaverse as an immersive, 3D, online learning space, accessible to a large audience and leverage new ways to connect the physical world with the online one. Gaming is a great way to tell the rich, biodiverse story of Cape Town to tweens and younger teens, sparking curiosity and consideration.”

Wesgro reveals that developers have worked closely with a well-known local botanist to ensure scientific and factual accuracy.

Cape Town conservationist Alex Landsdowne states: “Cape Town is one of the most biodiverse cities in the world. It is also the only big city in the globally unique Cape Floristic Kingdom. Therefore, it’s fantastic that the world gets to experience our unique flora and fauna through this innovative game.”

According to Wesgro, it will pilot uptake locally using influencers in tech and gaming, as well as its presence on TikTok, Google and Roblox Social.

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