Tourists are increasingly looking for opportunities to experience the culture, traditions and lifestyle of local communities. This is one of the advantages for regions riched in culture to create unique features for creative tourism. “Loulé Criativo” of Portugal deserves a typical example of the success for this type of tourism.
Located in the heart of the Algarve, in the south of Portugal, the municipality of Loulé along with surrounding areas attract a lot of tourists every year not only because of its beautiful nature but also because of the diverse cultural heritages. The culture that has been cultivated through thousands of years of history has made Loulé become the capital of handicrafts, which are unique heritages combining traditional culture and contemporary art of the region.
To preserve and promote the region’s features of handicraft creations, Loulé Municipal Council has launched a creative tourism program called “Loulé Criativo”. “Loulé Criativo” is an initiative aimed at enhancing and promoting the identity of Algarve municipality. Underpinning creativity and innovation, this program supports the training and development of local artisans, helping to revitalize the traditional arts and crafts, and encourages innovation to preserve the area’s intangible heritage.
With the participation of the Loulé Criativo Turismo Network including artisans, artists, cultural promoters and tour operators, “Loulé Criativo” offers short courses, workshops, theme weekends and other experiences that allow tourists to immerse themselves in the local culture as well as explore their creative potential.
The role of “Loulé Criativo” for the locality
Not only be a program that brings unique experiences and allows tourists to access the identity and traditions of Algarve, “Loulé Criativo” also contributes to the preservation of intangible heritage and impulses investment in Loulé tourism. The program encourages artisans and professional creators to continually innovate their products and working processes, facilitates researches in the local handicraft sector, supports the development of local businesses and handicraft shops in the city.
“Loulé Criativo” brings diverse experiences to tourists
As the headquarters of “Loulé Criativo”, Space of Knowledge, Crafts and Arts (Espaço de Conhecimento, Ofícios e Artes – ECOA) is a historic space located in the north of Loulé. Tourists can visit exhibition rooms of traditional art products and handicrafts. This is also a space for workshops, short courses for tourists with Palm Weaving Shop, Copper Shop, Clay Studio, Luthier Studio, Watchmaker Studio, Loulé Design Lab and other administrative areas.
Loulé has a truly diverse and long history of artistic creation and crafting with a lot of traditional products. “Loulé Criativo” organizes courses that allow tourists to create the region’s handicrafts, such as palm weaving, watch and instrument making, copper, pottery, tiles painting, candle making and gastronomy. Those courses can be organised year-round or seasonal and for all ages. The number of participants in each course is also limited to ensure the quality and experiences of tourists.
For example, in Artisanal Copper Course, tourists will learn and apply copper techniques in the work of copper, such as planning, cutting, shaping, hammering, bending and finishing their own products. With the “From the Market to the Kitchen – Grilled Sardines” course, tourists who participate in the course will go to the Market of Loulé together to buy sardines, prepare ingredients and experience the Portuguese way to eat sardines on bread.
Moreover, in the ECOA space also located the Loulé Design Lab, which is the space for the local creative community to learn, share and connect together. Loulé Design Lab is a coworking space that allows students, creators, researchers, businesses and other groups to introduce their ideas and researches innovation in their creations as well as boost the economy of Loulé.
Loulé attracts a lot of tourists to the MED Festival with music programs, exhibitions of art, poetry, theatre and gastronomy every June. “Loulé Criativo” brings the handicrafts throughout the year from local shops and Loulé Design Lab to those who visit the MED Festival.
With the features of “Loulé Criativo” and efforts in innovation for creative tourism, Loulé Municipal Council is the first in Portugal to become part of the Creative Tourism Network. The success of “Loulé Criativo” is evidence of the potential for this type of tourism once the local culture and traditions are properly developed.