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ViewRanger deal is boost for global outdoor tourism trade

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ViewRanger app overlays data about what the viewer is seeing
ViewRanger app overlays data about what the viewer is seeing

Walking app developer ViewRanger has been acquired by Bavarian company Outdooractive in a deal which will create a world-leading platform for outdoor tourism, featuring 2,500 partner destinations, 7.3 million subscribers and 450,000 routes.

ViewRanger is a GPS navigation app used by millions around the world to plan, navigate, record and share their outdoor adventures. It combines the world’s top offline maps with interactive route guides and advanced GPS navigation features. As well as being “the ultimate adventure tool for anyone exploring the great outdoors”, ViewRanger is also used by mountain rescue teams, first responders and police forces in the UK and overseas, says founder and CEO Craig Wareham.

“ViewRanger has made it possible for people – even those that thought they couldn’t use a map – to find good treks and trails and enjoy sharing them,” he said. “With gyms and sport centres closed, more people have started to enjoy being outside and we have seen an uplift in subscriptions.

“We have a strong community of outdoor enthusiasts that have contributed to our route finder; now they will also have access to the Outdooractive platform – and the wealth of content and features that it contains. This is an exciting new phase for ViewRanger.”

Meanwhile Hartmut Wimmer, founder and CEO of Outdooractive, is equally ebullient.

“At a time when the tourist industry is facing huge challenges, our collaboration will offer instant exposure for UK destinations to our combined user base, enabling them to quickly attract visitors as restrictions are relaxed,” he said. “Our users share a passion for exploring and enjoying the outdoors. By bringing together insider tips from travel writers and tourism partners with recommended routes from publishers and other enthusiasts, we help them to plan their adventures.

“Creating awareness of gems off-the-beaten track means visitors are encouraged to stay longer to discover a region, generating greater value for the destination.”

ViewRanger is a GPS navigation app used by millions
ViewRanger is a GPS navigation app used by millions

ViewRanger the company started in 2006 when Craig developed an app for the AA.

“In 2009 the ViewRanger business started, we had our first seed investment, and moved into St John’s Innovation Centre,” Craig told the Cambridge Independent. “Outdooractive serves a business market, we’re for consumers. We’ve been talking since January last year, and had agreed the best way to combine the two companies’ goals is to combine them.

“There’s no name change. Both businesses will continue as normal – there are plans to share and build technologies but at the moment both businesses are continuing to grow.

“The mechanism means that Outdooractive, which is based in the foothills of the Alps, has acquired the ViewRanger technology, and we as a business are continuing to progress the ViewRanger business but also provide Outdooractive with services to tourist and other UK organisations.

Craig Wareham, founder and CEO Craig Wareham. © Si Barber
Craig Wareham, founder and CEO Craig Wareham. © Si Barber

“The deal means we now have 100 colleagues in Europe as well as our staff of 14, who are mainly software engineers. Our innovative technology uses AI where you look through the camera on your phone and the app can label the view around you. We pioneered the use of that technology, and indeed I did some media events with Tim Cook when Apple launched its own viewfinder.

“The acquisition gives us and our customers more stability but also the tourism industry is having some tough times and, as lockdown becomes unlocked, tourist organisations are looking to promote their destinations both in the UK and elsewhere and hopefully we can help them re-establish their business.”

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