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Myth, Legend and Nostalgia
As the last example, a myth that could be considered to be one of the most recent myths created will be explored. In June 2011 village of Juzcar in South of Spain was painted blue as part of promotion campaign for the latest Smurf movie. The remote village that belongs to historical “White Village route” sacrificed whole of its heritage and allowed every building, including church and cemetery to be painted blue and decorated with drawings and items connected to Smurfs. As a result tourist numbers rocketed – up to 3000 tourists per day in busiest weekends. Noting that the village has only about 250 inhabitants, these visitor numbers creates huge disturbances for local people by blocking the only tiny road leading through the village as well as tourists viewing the whole village and community as a theme park. Even though such promotion could be seen as unethical as it undermines local heritage and culture in favour of a myth, the economic benefits created by tourist flows are highly valuated in the time of crisis and the villagers will have a referendum to decide if they want to stay ‘Smurf town’ permanently. (Datar, 2011, Guerrero, 2011)
All the examples above show how myths and legends are exploited by travel organisers to meet the needs of today’s society. They can occur in the form of so called ‘staged authenticity’ presenting re-enactments of historic battles or exciting tours enabling to see the sites relating to well-publicized, historic events and people. It is worth mentioning the role of television and mass media as the main source of collecting information. Public see myths and legends as a subject to change and interpretation in order to stay entertained. The way famous characters are portrayed by media these days differ from original versions significantly. For example, when we watch the movie about King Arthur, we can see him as a knight in shining armour which was unknown in this day. Similarly, the legendary Robin Hood, who keeps coming back at yet more fiction as a series in comics, on the radio, in film and on television. It also needs to be emphasised that one of the main factor of enduring interest in myths and legends as tourist attractions is nostalgia. Robb (2010) claims that people simply like to reminisce about past times and it can give meaning to their dull lives. Advertisers and businesses are aware that nostalgia sells, therefore many tourist products refer to past stories or characters to make people feel good. Visiting places or watching movies based on well-known myths and legends not only help fight daily routine but also awaken the nostalgic feelings and remind us that our lives are worthwhile.
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