Āraiši is one of the Latvia’s jewels where every corner holds some legends. Storytelling tradition was used to create tourism concept - Legends of Āraiši.
Storytelling is a a big part of traditional culture in Latvia. Āraiši is a small scenic place with concentration of many ancient legend. The most important tourism site is The Archaeological Park with reconstructed Lake settlement from 9-10th century which was discovered partially due local legends about sunk castle.
The Legends of Āraiši is based on public private collaboration and gives chance to involve local businesses – as storytellers/guides, craftsmen, musicians, caterers, food and souvenir makers and accommodation providers. Unique tourism logo was created depicting the main legend characters and places. Inspiration is taken from ancient crosses of arms. Orienteering game with quizzes was created for tourists to discover local legends, visit the sites, entrepreneurs and the events. While playing tourists could earn points for each visit and at the end receive some award. It was motivational for local SMs participate as partners.
Local Crafts House in cooperation with film producers made animation film showing the legends. All music and storytelling was performed and requisites made at the workshops by local children. The film is used into tourism programs. Storytelling master classes and annual storytelling event take place during European Museum Night. The legends told from generations to generations are now used in tourism through game, music, performance, excursions and provide marketing and development platform for local businesses.
The concept and creation of interactive logo, dress for guides, maps, promotion: 35 000 Eur. Implementation of interactive orienteering game: cooperation with students as their working experience . Renewal of community map up to date: 2000 Eur. Activities, workshops: 20 000 Eur.
Evidence of success
The total visitors of Āraiši grew by 23 % from 2016-2018.
Āraiši Windmill and Drabeši Manors kokle (Latvian music instrument) workshop received tourism certificate "Latvian Heritage" issued by the Ministry of Environment and Regional Development.
The ECTN Awards 2019 in category "Contributions by Cultural & Creative Industries to Cultural Tourism" , 2 place.
New businesses in 2018/19: 3 guides, 2 accommodations, 1 musician, 1 event venue, 1 craft studio (textiles), 1 huskies farm.
It is not easy to convince decision makers and actors about totally new concepts which does not go in line with traditions so far.
It was a challenge to get Crafts workshops working with tourists and creating tourism programs.
The challenge is to improve visitor numbers in low season.
Potential for learning or transfer
Creative involvement of storytelling tradition into tourism is one way how to transmit important intangible cultural heritage to noways society and ensure its continuity. Legends and their local storytellers and other involved businesses reveal the soul of destination and its culture making authentic and unique experience for tourists.
In meantime this is a platform for community based tourism where local people and businesses gain all the benefit from visitors.
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