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QR codes for tourism? Wikipedia-linked codes to guide tourists in Gibraltar

We see QR codes all over the place, from magazines to posters to business cards. There’s even a cemetery in Denmark that’s using them to tell the life story of the deceased. A giant one turned up in a Canadian cornfield the other day, too.

Gibraltar, a small overseas territory of the UK located at the entrance to the Mediterranean in southwestern Europe, is also getting in on the act with its soon-to-launch Gibraltarpedia project. The plan is to plaster the place with QR codes giving smartphone-equipped tourists quick access to information about various sites and points of interest.

With 11 million visitors a year coming to the British outpost, tourist officials there are keen to find new ways of enriching their experience, and Clive Finlayson of the Gibraltar Museum thinks QR codes can go some way to help.

“Gibraltar is a multi-layered cake of historical events, starting with the Neanderthals of 50,000 years ago through to modern humans,” Finlayson told the BBC. “Here we have another way of getting all this information across to the world.”

The codes will take users to a Wikipedia page explaining about the place of interest. Volunteers are currently working hard on creating the new pages in a multitude of languages.

Roger Bamkin of Wikimedia, the charity that owns Wikipedia, is planning for the QR codes to communicate with the user’s handset to determine the language of the uploaded webpage.

“By scanning QR codes around them, tourists will be to able to find out about the place they are visiting in their own language, with the description written by a volunteer speaking that language,” Bamkin said.

Of course, it could be that many visitors, fearful of pricey roaming charges, will simply stick with a traditional printed guidebook rather than scanning codes. To get around this, the authorities are considering introducing free Wi-Fi.

Despite the good intentions of Gibraltar’s tourism office, getting visitors to use the codes may be an uphill struggle. The results of a recent comScore study showed that in July this year only 11 percent of UK smartphone owners scanned a QR code. That’s pretty dismal for a technology that’s been around almost 20 years.

Either way, the codes will provide tourists visiting the territory with another option for pulling up information besides guidebooks, pamphlets and apps.

While QR codes have failed to really take off in other areas, do you think it could find its place in the tourism industry? Would you be tempted to whip out your smartphone if you saw a QR code beside a famous landmark?

[Image: Artur Bogacki / Shutterstock]

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