It was a bit surprising to be flipping through our local paper, the Burlington Free Press, this morning and stumble upon an article about SecondLife called "Vermont eyes virtual world". Not entirely sure why, to be honest, except that perhaps a Free Press writer just thought it was cool to write about... and given that IBM is a large employer in these parts, things that IBM is interested in are potentially interesting to area residents.
As noted, the Vermont tourism department doesn't have it in their plans yet, but is interested. The article quotes Vermont's deputy commissioner of tourism and marketing, Steve Cook, and says this:
Cook envisions a virtual Vermont that includes rolling green hills, meandering wildlife, a portion of the Long Trail, the gold-domed capitol, the Bennington battle monument and aspects of downtown Burlington and the city's waterfront. An address in Second Life would give the state an opportunity to lure tourists by creating a spot for avatars from around the world to gather, socialize and experience virtually what Vermont has to offer.
If he's going to go that far, he should probably include a virtual ski mountain, too, since that is so much of what we have here most years. They should also have a sugar shack... maybe you could help tap some maple trees and then connect the pieces to get syrup processing going. I do like the idea of "meandering wildlife"... if it were to actually be done it could be quite entertaining.
We've also got the "V" thing going... I mean... "Virtual Vermont" or "Virtual Vermont Valleys"... :-)
It would be interesting to see if the other places that already have a virtual presence to encourage tourism are actually seeing any positive results they can measure. Are people visiting their area/region as a result of having seen it in Second Life? (Not sure exactly how you track that unless you provided some way in-world to sign up for travel or had a code to use with agencies.) Some day in all my copious free time (!) perhaps I'll investigate...