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NSW Success Stories - Vision Walks

Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron BayCREDIT: Destination NSW

Cape Byron Lighthouse sitting on Australia's most easterly point, Byron Bay.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

NSW Success Stories
- Vision Walks

Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay CREDIT: Destination NSW

Cape Byron Lighthouse sitting on Australia's most easterly point, Byron Bay.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #lovensw #newsouthwales

Since Australian borders closed in 2020 due to Covid-19, Wendy Bithell’s northern NSW eco-touring business, Vision Walks Eco Tours based in and around Byron Bay, has evolved from the natural world to the virtual world. Now, her interactive wildlife and bush tucker tours for travellers stuck at home are going wild around the globe, with Bithell beaming Australian native animals in their natural habitat to fascinated groups of corporates, students and tourists as far as South-East Asia, Canada and the USA. 

In May last year during lockdown, Bithell began using Zoom to catch up with family and friends, strolling around her hinterland property pointing out plants and native wildlife. “I live in a very beautiful place. Within five minutes I've got the river, the ocean or the rainforest,” says Bithell. This sparked the idea for how to stay connected with her clientele. “I was lucky that I could just start walking and experiment with virtual tours.”  

Bithell drew on her skills in technology, science and education to create something engaging and educational.  “I think that’s why it was an easy business transition for me. I’m pretty innovative — I started to consider how I could keep international tourists engaged and what new products I could create to attract locals.” 

The virtual tours were initially picked up in India, then parts of South-East Asia from Singapore to Hong Kong. Bithell charges $30 for an interactive, virtual hour of wildlife watching, bush tucker ‘tasting’ or the unique Glow In The Dark Live Tour, where she seeks out nocturnal animals with a UV light. As Bithell’s virtual audience grew, US platform, Beeyonder, got onboard. “The platform was launched by a bilateral amputee who originally aimed to bring tours from around the globe to people with disabilities who couldn’t travel. With Covid, many people can’t travel and Beeyonder gave me this huge opening into Canada and the USA.”  

In the USA, Bithell’s most popular tour is her Virtual Koala Tour. “They absolutely love it and I’ve Zoomed into all kinds of groups: a 10-year-old’s birthday party in LA; a Harvard University student group and the Vice President of Spotify along with their staff. I talk a little to camera, but mostly the focus is on the koalas and everyone laughs at their antics and asks questions,” Bithell says. 

Bithell also talks through the koala’s biology, threats to their habitat and uploads a link on how to adopt a koala in Australia. 

While running her successful koala tour and local face-to-face tours, Bithell noted a thirst for information about Indigenous culture, so she connected with expert local Indigenous guide, Aunty Delta, who now runs the Aboriginal Tour at Cape Byron. “One of the highlights of my whole career was seeing Aunty Delta conducting her bush tucker tour last week with a group of Native American children. We had this beautiful First Nations Culture exchange.” 

Bithell is now reaching even more people per session. “On land, face-to-face, you can only have a certain amount of people on your tours.” Currently, 30 per cent of her clients are Zooming in from overseas, to see NSW live. Wendy has come a long way since she was a child camping in her backyard for the school holidays, dreaming of being a park ranger. “I've always been passionate about nature.” 

Hinterland, Byron Bay CREDIT: Destination NSW

Aerial of the rolling hills in Byron Bay's hinterland.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Hinterland, Byron Bay CREDIT: Destination NSW

Aerial of the rolling hills in Byron Bay's hinterland.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Vision Walks Eco Tours 
80 Jonson Street, Byron Bay NSW 2481 
visionwalks.com.au/virtual-tours 
@visionwalks 

Get social by tagging: 
@sydney #ilovesydney 
@visitnsw #lovensw 

The NSW Government via Destination NSW is sharing a series of NSW Success Stories – businesses of all types that have adapted their offerings to face the current environment and continue serving their community with a fresh approach and shining success. These innovative initiatives are nothing short of inspiring.  

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