The Turaida Museum Reserve in Latvia, which is a protected cultural monument, has taken part this year in a European competition, “Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism 2016,” which is being organised by the European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN). The theme this year was tourism and intangible heritage, and applications were submitted by 23 candidates from nine European countries – Greece, Georgia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Serbia and Spain.
The 9th international conference on cultural tourism in Europe took place in Guimaraes, Portugal, on September 23, 2016, and the theme was “Intangible Heritage: An Incomparable Asset for Sustainable and Responsible Museum Development. The Turaida Museum Reserve was honoured to receive first place in the category “Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism 2016” for its preservation and popularisation of intangible heritage. Second place was taken by the Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art in Greece, while third prize was awarded to the traditional Catalan cuisine of Tossa de Mar, Spain.
The ECTN is an international association that was established in 2009 in Brussels. It offers a platform for the development and popularisation of cultural tourism. The ECTN takes active part in EU projects, bringing in partners, offering examples of good practices, and providing new opportunities for co-operation. The countries that are involved in the ECTN are Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Great Britain, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain and Sweden (Gotland). Individual institutions, regional associations, universities, research institutions and non-governmental organisations all take part in the association’s work.
The Turaida Museum Reserve emphasised its achievements in the preservation of intangible heritage over the course of more than 35 years in its application for the competition – popularisation of Latvian folksongs and traditional culture on Folksong Hill, organisation of annual Latvian celebrations, particularly in terms of the Summer Solstice, encouragement of Latvian traditions, customs and rituals, provision of facilities for performances during the international “BALTICA” folklore festival, popularisation of the legend of the Rose of Turaida, preservation of wedding traditions and demonstrations of ancient blacksmith skills with the help of a local blacksmith.
The award emphasises the respect that the European tourism industry has toward intangible heritage, with ideas, skills and values that have been formed over the course of many centuries. Cultural heritage involves more than just memories about the past. It is also a key to the future. The European Commission has declared that 2018 will be the European Year of Cultural Heritage, when even more attention will be devoted to ways of enhancing the social and economic significance of cultural heritage and of popularising European proficiency in this regard.