Bite GSM offers electronic welcome

  • 2002-07-18
  • Rokas M. Tracevskis

Attention tourists: Bring your mobile phones with you when you visit Vilnius.

Those who do will get a helpful "welcome" from the telecommunications company Bite GSM, whose new service sends information about the city and its major sites to tourists via SMS message.

The idea, says Bite GSM Internet sector manager Raimondas Mikalajunas, is to help visitors orient themselves in a foreign city.

"The biggest part of tourists come to Vilnius with tour groups or join guided tours, but there are still some people who just do not have time to use guide services," he said.

The new service, simply called "Welcome," will also help businessmen who have little time to pour over city maps but need to fill some free hours with a bit of culture and sightseeing.

"We see it as an alternative way of getting familiar with the capital of Lithuania," Mikalajunas said.

According to Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas, a co-sponsor of the initiative, Vilnius welcomed 195,000 foreign visitors last year, most of them from Poland, Russia, Latvia, Germany and Finland.

City guests who dial 1622 on their mobile phones can listen to a suggested itinerary - in English - that recommends leisurely walks through the heart of Old Town, including a visit to Didzioji and Pilies streets and offers information about city architecture and historical sites: the Cathedral-Basilica, the Church of St. Anne, Vilnius Castle, the Hill of Three Crosses, Vilnius University, Town Hall.

For those who have more time, it is recommended to visit the medieval castle at Trakai and the Museum of the Center of Europe, both a short ride from Vilnius.

The service also allows tourists to order taxis and the chance to win a coffee mug, clock or other souvenirs by taking a 10-question multiple-choice quiz about Lithuania.

Visitors are charged rates according to those set by their home mobile operators, said Bite GSM spokeswoman Aukse Armonaite.

Only foreigners will be able to win prizes, but the "Welcome" service is available to Lithuanian subscribers too.