The Journal Gazette

• To take a virtual tour of the city, go to www.VisitFortWayne.com/360.

Visit Fort Wayne has launched an online virtual tour of the city that will allow tourists and residents alike to more easily find restaurants, hotels, museums and other attractions.

The site’s cutting-edge technology can be navigated on various electronic devices, including smartphones.

Clear Vision Media, the Warsaw-based vendor, has been shooting 360-degree, high-definition video of city streets and inside various destinations for the past six months.

Fifteen interior virtual tours have been completed, with six more in production. Sites with interior tours include the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Science Central and Grand Wayne Center.

Dan O’Connell, Visit Fort Wayne’s president, said his organization is always trying to increase and improve the ways it promotes the city.

For example, convention planners can not only see individual meeting rooms inside the Grand Wayne, they can also see how close the downtown hotels and Parkview Field are to the convention center.

“It can preview our community before they come here,” O’Connell said of online tour. “Everybody likes to test-drive a car before they buy it.”

The Downtown Improvement District’s board is expected to vote Tuesday on a plan to highlight parking garages and lots on the map in a bid to counter some residents’ concerns that downtown doesn’t offer enough convenient parking, said Chris Sanchez, Clear Vision’s executive producer.

Clear Vision took aerial footage of Fort Wayne using two drones approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, Sanchez said.

“The aerials are so important to the orientation,” he said, referring to people understanding where they are in relation to the screen image. “We can see 6 miles with every shot.”

DID’s board is also considering underwriting some costs for members to promote their businesses on the virtual tour, O’Connell said.

Interior venue tours cost $750 to $2,500 each, depending on the amount of detail included, he said.

Visit Fort Wayne has spent about $15,000 so far on the project and plans to add more locations, O’Connell said. Venues are also covering some of the costs, he said.

Visit Fort Wayne was established in 1949.

The nonprofit receives a portion of its $1.5 million annual budget from an innkeepers’ tax assessed on hotel rooms. Members also pay dues to belong to the tourism-focused organization.