Over the years, we have seen the partnership between tourism and technology get closer.
Tourism has created demand for advances in science and technology to make travel easier. A technological product that I have seen more interest in across the travel industry is the use of drones.
Why drones are useful to the tourism sector
Drones have traditionally been used for military, construction surveying and surveillance purposes, but they are now gathering more leverage in tourism with service providers seeing their benefits.
Aerial videos have been used by tourist boards and tourism promotion bodies, to enhance the resources of their destination and the beauty of the natural landscape. Accommodation providers, events companies, entertainment, sightseeing operators, and yachting businesses are using drones to capture attention.
Overseas, Tourism New Zealand has strategized to capture appeal by the young generation who are fond of ‘selfies’ by using a drone at ski slopes to record short videos of tourists and post it to social media – increasing in popularity is the drone hashtag #dronies
We meet the experts
Access Riviera interviewed Stéphane Vinuesa of local French Riviera company MLVDrone to ascertain his point-of-view on the effect of drones on travel and tourism:
1. Bonjour Stéphane, thank you for taking the time for our interview. Could you please explain what a drone is?
A drone, the common name for an UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) is a small flying platform with a payload, usually a camera which is piloted remotely. The common drone that most of you know is a “multi-copter”. You can find small ones in toy shops.
Yet professional drones are not toys and can be quite expensive. Professional drones have a higher payload capacity and comply with applicable regulations. One of our fleet is 1,10m wide and has a payload of 3.5kg. It is impressive to see this one flying.
2. Recently, a tourist was arrested in Paris for flying a drone over Nôtre Dame Cathedral. How do you think France’s strict laws on civilians flying unmanned aircraft will influence your own company?
Actually, I think we have an advantage in France to have benefited from regulation quite early.
For example, growth in the civil drone industry has been held up for a number of years in the USA for this reason where drone usage was simply banned to avoid incidents.
Regulations are obviously required for flying objects such as drones because of the obvious dangers of collision and to protect the privacy and security of individuals and groups. Current French regulations need improvement now that we have gained experience and, indeed, we are seeing some promising developments as our organization reviews the latest projects for new texts.
Despite the presence of regulation, incidents do occur. In May this year, a drone crashed from 300 feet onto a beach in Nice; luckily no one was sunbathing at the crash site yet people around were understandably quite scared.
When talking with professionals from others countries, they all are of the opinion that appropriate regulations would be desirable in their countries. The EU has initiated a consultancy survey last summer in order to decide whether a common regulation should be in place for Europe.
3. Why do you feel an aerial view is so effective in tourism promotion?
Aerial views are striking and often show off an area, a remarkable site or a building in a dynamic way impossible to accomplish on foot.
Before drones, helicopters were often used for the production of quality aerial images but these are obviously much more expensive and disturbing to the surroundings.
Often people don’t know how aerial views were captured yet they notice them more than images taken from a terrestrial perspective. Everyone dreams of flying!
4. What do you see are the main opportunities for you with using drones for tourism?
As mentioned above, the striking and dynamic impact of aerial images at a reasonable price offer a clear advantage over classical imagery.
The price allows venues such as smaller hotels, villages, eco-tourist sites, ships etc to promote themselves as never before with aerial panoramic, virtual aerial tour, etc.
Short films of events such as corporate meetings, marriages and so on are becoming popular as people recognize the possibilities available with the new technology.
Although not quite on the subject, I would like to mention that drones can be used cost-effectively for many other purposes such as imaging (thermal, infra red…), avalanche and landslide surveillance, powerline surveillance etc.
5. What (if any) is the impact of drones on the environment compared to other aerial options such as helicopters?
A drone produces neither noise nor emissions.
There are really only a few drawbacks to the technology currently – limitations to the size of the payload, limitations in flight time due to battery capacity and the need for the operators to be in visual proximity during flight.
Access Riviera would like to say thank you to Stéphane for his time completing this interview!
French drone snippets of interest
- If you are interested in a drone pilot course on the French Riviera, contact MLVDrone via their website, Twitter or Facebook.
- The French national railway company (SNCF) has tested drones this year to check for theft of rail cables. In the future, it is hoped the drones may assist in monitoring train bridges, viaducts and geological considerations for railway lines (e.g. cliff stability, rock faces)
- Whether you travel globally or regionally, check out Travel By Drone, it is one of my favourite websites for losing myself in the destination videos.
- Brilliant music site, La Blogothèque, channelled their platform Take Away Shows for French band, Phoenix, who had a music video for their song ‘Entertainment’ filmed by a drone. It’s a nice electro-rock video of the band interspersed with drone footage of Versailles. You can watch the clip via YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c3PoD_qW1Y
- French tourism received a huge boost last year with producer Sylvain Plantard’s series for France 2 television ‘Le village préféré des français’ (Favourite French Village) rating highly with outstanding drone footage of French towns and scenery.
Sources: MLVDrone, Flickr, France Television, YouTube, Gizmodo
Disclaimer: Access Riviera is not affiliated to any companies in this article, all information is for research only.