360-degree panoramic imagery of SA's tourism destinations now a reality

Google has launched Mzansi Experience‚ a Google Street View collection that will allow millions of people to go on virtual tours of top natural attractions in South Africa.

Using a massive collective of images and footage collected over a year then "stitched together" using cutting-edge technology‚ Mzansi Experience has created full virtual tours of Kruger National Park‚ Table Mountain National Park‚ Lion's Head‚ West Coast National Park and Clifton Beach‚ among others.

Google partnered with South African National Parks‚ and South Africa joins 65 other countries that already have 360-degree panoramic imagery of top tourism destinations.

Speaking on behalf of SANParks‚ Reynold Thakhuli said: "This will bring a broad spectrum of the public closer to exciting wilderness features."

Mich Atagan‚ communications head for Google South Africa‚ said: "This is part of a campaign to showcase the beauty of South Africa ... [which is home to] eight Unesco world heritage sites and the Kruger National Park‚ one of Africa's largest game reserves."

Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom‚ who attended Tuesday's launch in Cape Town‚ praised Google and SANParks for their forward-thinking approach.

"Virtual tourism is getting better and better but I don't see it as replacing actual tourism‚" he said.

"Instead it creates a stronger desire to travel and helps those abroad to be inspired to visit South Africa and plan their trips ahead."