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Let your fingers walk over cultural, historic treasures

Date

Sally Pryor

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Photo: Karl Hilzinger

Every great city needs its own app, and now the nation's capital has The Canberra Guide.

The free smartphone app and mobile website, launched on Friday, joins a growing list of social media tools to help visitors navigate Canberra for the centenary.

It was developed by local communications outfit The Mark Agency and cost $100,000, with costs shared between the National Capital Authority, Australian Capital Tourism, Centenary of Canberra and members of the National Capital Attractions Association.

The president of the National Capital Attractions Association, Heather Millard, said the team had been inspired by a trip to the Smithsonian in Washington DC, where it was possible to download 30-minute tour suggestions at each institution.

The Canberra app will have a similar function, as well as a full program for official centenary events, and maps showing locations for public facilities, such as parks, public toilets and playgrounds.

Labor senator Kate Lundy said it represented a new way of looking at Canberra, with multi-layered information about more than 40 attractions.

"As Canberrans we are one of the most connected cities in the world," she said. "The way people are choosing to communicate is the way we can distribute information now."

Tourism Minister Andrew Barr said the biggest challenge for next year would be managing the huge number of events and public programs happening in Canberra.

"We all need to take the next week off to prepare ourselves," he said, adding that the app was an obvious fit for national attractions wanting more content in a digital format.

"The more people who engage online, the more they're likely to come here," he said. "The app will allow people to plan their time here and choose where they want to visit."

He said the average stay in Canberra for out-of-town tourists was three days, but Australian Capital Tourism was hoping to boost that time during the centenary year.

"One of the important elements is that there is a lot of free product [in Canberra], which is a challenge for tourism because it's an industry based on commission."

The chief executive of the National Capital Authority, Gary Rake, said the app was the perfect way to inform and educate Australians about Canberra.

"Even without the seat of government and the High Court, it's still a beautifully designed city, but when you overlay the cultural institutions, it becomes something far more symbolic," he said.

He said there was potential to expand the application.

''So at the moment, people can look at a map, they can find an institution, they can see when it's open, they can see some of the events. It would be fantastic if they were then able to look at digitised versions of some of the collections.''

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