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Dial a city tour on a cell phone

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Some city audio tours are using the voice of a well known personality.

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HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Next time you are in Hong Kong for business, you may want to take a tour of the city using your mobile phone.

Mobile devices are ubiquitous in the savvy executive traveler's arsenal, and now they are being used to offer audio guides.

Most local people in this South China metropolis would never leave home without their mobile phone, so a walking cellular tour seems like an ideal fit.

One company -- Walk the Talk -- provides an SIM card, airtime and a pass code so that you can listen to information about the city's history, shopping, architecture and restaurants.

"Walking is really the best way to experience the sights and sounds of this metropolis," says David Wong, who is behind the concept.

The guide is the brainchild of Wong and Stefan White, former Hong Kong bankers who gave up lucrative careers to start their company, Mobile Adventures.

But they are not the only ones providing city audio guides using a mobile phone.

U.S.-based TalkingStreet.com now offers tours of Boston, New York and Washington DC. Its tours are narrated by celebrities, such as CNN's Larry King, who informs the listener about Washington's major landmarks.

In Canada, signposts in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver offer telephone numbers allowing visitors to dial in and listen to stories about buildings, markets and streets narrated by local people.

While Hand Held History offers a similar tour of London that encompasses the Tower of London, House of Parliament and Convent Garden narrated by a famous actor.

As the price of airtime and roaming charges fall, audio guides around the world are becoming a viable option. Other audio devices such as MP3 players and iPods also represent an opportunity for travel tours. (Full Story)

Getting exposure

For Walk the Talk, the problem has been getting the kits into the hands of visitors.

Hong Kong's numerous four and five star hotels would seem like a natural route for the audio tour company, but it has not been easy.

"When we went to them and told them that we want to do a heritage tour of Hong Kong, a lot of them were very skeptical," says Wong.

"That is because many outsource their tourism services to local tour operators, who have not embraced the idea -- they view us as competing with their bus tours."

The two managed to convince a bookstore chain, Bookazine, to stock the travel product.

"From a personal angle, David and Stefan are so passionate about what they do, it is difficult to say no to that type of enthusiasm," says Shonee Mirchandani, owner of the store.

Mobile Adventures is now launching a tour for Macau and a Singapore walk is also being planned.

James McDonald contributed to this report for CNN

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