The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has announced plans to release a new virtual reality tour experience app during the Hawaii Tourism Conference, which begins Sept. 26.

The Hawaii VR app features 360-degree live-action footage from around the Aloha State's four major islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii. But the new platform offers more than just beautiful imagery, enabling users to participate in activities such as surfing, hula or sailing on a catamaran.

Along with a virtual reality presentation and discussion session scheduled for the Hawaii Tourism Conference on Sept. 29, VR demonstration stations will be available in the show's Tech Hub at the Village Square for attendees to sample firsthand.

"Anyone who loves Hawaii or dreams about coming here is going to be amazed at how they can suddenly be in the islands whenever they want and capture the magic of being here," Leslie Dance, the HTA's vice president of marketing and product development, said in a statement. "This virtual reality tour is a new platform for showcasing Hawaii's culture and natural environment, the two pillars of our global appeal."

Users begin their experience flying over the Hawaiian Islands like a paraglider and can choose to visit one of the state's four major islands, where they'll be guided by the voice of an island resident, who offers insight on the destination's attractions and culture.

"This VR experience will be an educational tool for travelers, as well as travel trade professionals, about the diversity of the Hawaiian Islands and help inspire the booking of vacations," Dance added.

The HTA will unveil the new app's tour features in stages beginning on Sept. 26, when virtual tours of Oahu and Hawaii Island will be available through downloads for HTC Vive on Steam and in the iOS App Store for iPhone.

A version for Oculus Rift and Android smartphones will be introduced later this year, according to HTA officials. That release will coincide with the launch of virtual tour experiences for all four islands on all platforms.
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