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 people – as storytellers, craftsmen, musicians, actors and traditional food makers. Unique tourism logo was created depicting the main legend characters and places. Inspiration is taken from ancient crosses of arms. This logo is also used as a teaser for potential traveler when they visit Āraiši website - by clicking on logo's detail- it moves and opens the legend. Special dress was designed for Āraiši guides/storytellers to reflect this tourism logo. Orienteering game with quizzes was created for tourists to discover local legends and visit the sites along the way and attend the events. 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. This way legends live on.
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 to up to date situation: 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 and Association of Latvian Rural Tourism.
The ECTN Awards 2019 in category "Contributions by Cultural & Creative Industries (CCIs)to Cultural Tourism" , 2 place.
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.
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 reveal the soul of destination and its culture making authentic experience for tourists.