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Intelligent Radio Helps Tourists Be Their Own Guides

SA Blog has seen the future – or rather, has been driven around while listening to it. In a world first on the technology front, Tourism Radio has been launched in Cape Town, a GPS-driven radio station that provides tourists with literally on-the-spot info about where they are and what to see nearby.

(GPS, for those who don’t know, stands for “Global Positioning System”. It’s technology that allows satellites to track Earth-bound objects, like cars, with incredible accuracy.)

How does Tourism Radio work? First, you rent a car with the special GPS device that allows the radio to “tune in” to the various satellites spinning overhead. Fortunately, this is easy: Budget, National, Alamo, Scenic and Sixt all provide GPS-equipped cars (and at a cost of only R10-R15 more per day than a car without GPS).

Next, set the radio dial to 90.2 FM – and then simply start driving! One of the beauties of this system is that you can switch between GPS-provided content and normal radio (see: Radio Stations in South Africa) without any hassle; just twist the dial. But for Cape Town first-timers, why would you want to switch away from Tourism Radio? Just listen to what’s on air:

  • Intellipoints. As you drive around Cape Town, a satellite determines your position, and then sends location-specific content to your ears. During a test drive around the Atlantic Seaboard, the radio transitioned smoothly from a short insert on Granger Bay (a small inlet between Moullie Point and the harbor) to a quick run-down of the V&A Waterfront, and what to see and do inside. There are no less than seventeen intellipoints around the peninsula, covering all the must-sees.
  • Drop ins. Like intellipoints, but shorter. Tourism Radio knows the direction that you’re driving in – how neat is that – and accordingly “drops in” the odd bit of info, such as “on your left, Cape Town’s top seafood restaurant…” and so on.
  • Tourist-oriented radio shows: there’s more than fifty hours of programming at any given moment on Tourism Radio. You’ll hear nifty inserts like “Top 20 Questions Visitors Want to Ask South Africans”, as well as plenty of local music, complete with advice on where to find it.

Brilliant, no? And available nowhere else but Cape Town (for the moment – there is talk of expansion to Joburg and Kruger, too). SA Blog hopes to bring you a sample Tourism Radio podcast soon. Meanwhile, why not investigate it yourself – get a car at BootsnAll’s