With the exception of the silly QR codes, Petersburg seems like it's making smart decisions to drive tourism to sites recently made popular on television and in the movie theaters.
Tonight the director, stars and others involved in the Oscar-nominated film Lincoln may walk away with statuettes recognizing the caliber of work put into the movie.
But Petersburg Area Regional Tourism (PART) is hoping that area residents and tourists will soon be walking in the footsteps of the 16th president himself.
The new “Walk in Lincoln’s Final Footsteps” initiative developed by PART will take visitors into the life and experiences of what Lincoln saw and felt while he stayed in the city for two of the last three weeks of his life.
Tourism director for PART, Martha Burton, said that brochures for the new initiative have been distributed at welcome centers and visitors centers throughout the state and that brochures and rack cards have also been mailed out.
“Every other day we get at least one phone call and every week we get a list of people requesting information,” said Burton. Some of those inquiries have even come from outside the country.
Lincoln has also become a “star anew” and is portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis in the award winning film Lincoln, directed by Stephen Spielberg, and by Billy Campbell in the National Geographic Channel documentary, Killing Lincoln. Both movies were primarily filmed here.
Burton said that with the Spielberg film, interest in the area has been stirred and there has been an increase in the number of inquiries by potential visitors.
President Abraham Lincoln spent his days commanding the end of the Civil War from City Point in Hopewell, walking the battlefields in Dinwiddie, Chesterfield and Prince George, riding through the streets of Petersburg and sleeping on the Appomattox and James rivers aboard his yacht.
The new tour also incorporates technology allowing visitors to learn about the importance of the sites. All visitors need to do is scan a QR code in the brochure with their smart device and a video detailing the importance of the site will play.
The technology is an important part of the tour, Burton said.
“Twenty years ago we would have started a tour at Appomattox Plantation with a docent on a bus,” Burton said. But with a tour that goes through multiple jurisdictions she said there is difficulty in arranging for ranger or docent led tours. But with the videos people can learn from historians and in a format that “most people are comfortable with.”
She said that including the videos was a natural choice because research from the Virginia Tourism Corporation and other entities show that more and more people own smartphones. “We’re trying to be current and offer that for visitors,” Burton said.
Area residents who want to know more about the tour or view the videos may visit www.walkinlincolnsfinalfootsteps.com.
(c)2013 The Progress-Index (Petersburg, Va.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.
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