Understanding the fishing heritage of Ližnjan through inventive self-guided interpretation

The RibAR app and self-guided tour leaflet, Images: Ližnjan County Tourism Board

The RibAR app and self-guided tour leaflet, Images: Ližnjan County Tourism Board

Augmented reality and gamification connect generations in a village of abundant fishing heritage.

Ližnjan is a small town in the Croatian region of Istria. It lies on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the fishing tradition is a big part of its identity. Ližnjan County Tourism Board decided to present that part of the heritage with the help of gamification, augmented reality, and, last but not least, heritage interpretation.

Ližnjan had already opted for interpretation to steer the wheel of its tourism development. Its example is even mentioned in Interpret Europe’s brochure ‘Recreating tourism through heritage interpretation’. This year, the local tourism board gathered an interesting group of people who worked together to bring the fishing heritage closer to younger generations and visitors. Together with its partners, the Ližnjan district school, and Kindergartens Bubamara – Scuole dell’infanzia Coccinella from the towns of Ližnjan and Šišan, the tourism board started a project called Fisherman – Digital Fishing Window.

The project was almost fully financed by the European Union through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. It was the only project in Croatia this year supported by this fund, that is exclusively based on heritage presentation.

The goal of the project was to create two educational and entertaining products. One of them was a mobile app that included two augmented reality guides. In fact, the Croatian word for a fisherman is ‘ribar’, and the Croatian title contains the word ribAR, which immediately implies augmented reality as one of the project tools and outcomes.

The other is a self-guided gamified booklet that invites people to explore the area on their own, in an engaging and interactive way, by ‘decoding’ the Ližnjan coastline and learning about what makes it special. Both the booklet and the app are available in four different languages, and they are free of charge. If you happen to pass by Ližnjan, stop by the tourist office and pick up the brochure.

As for the app, you can download it right away. You are able to read about the exciting residents of the waters around Ližnjan and about its fishing heritage wherever you are in the world. However, you can only activate augmented reality once you actually visit Ližnjan. Only then will you be able to meet the charming characters of fisherman Bepo and his wife Marija. Together, they will tell you about the life of fishermen through the cycle of the year. Download the app here: https://liznjaninfo.hr/index.php/en/ribar

One of the challenges for interpreters these days is digitalisation. How to create self-guided tours, or tours based on technology, and still offer a hands-on experience? How did the two animated characters within this project become interpretive guides? The key ingredients for this recipe are experience, expertise, and community.

Experts in different fields were gathered to produce content. Marine biologists were consulted, and they conducted workshops for local children. Exhaustive interviews were conducted with local fishermen and residents about their experiences and memories. This was one of the most valuable parts of the project, as their personal touch was added to the characters. In the Croatian version of the app, the characters even talk in the local dialect. The community, in the shape of local children, actively contributed to the creation. They discussed the fishing tradition, created illustrations, learned the benefits of consuming fish, and even cooked themselves and prepared some recipes that are included in the app and the booklet. With such a synergy, the characters truly embody the spirit of Ližnjan. If you ever get to visit Ližnjan, don’t forget to stop and say hi to Bepo and Marija and listen to their vivid stories.

Iva Silla, from Croatia, is active in the fields of creative tourism and heritage interpretation as a content creator, product designer, and a trainer. Her project most relevant to this topic is Playful Croatia (playful-croatia.com), gamified activities design. Contact her at: [email protected].

To cite this article: Silla, Iva (2022) ‘Understanding the fishing heritage of Ližnjan through inventive self-guided interpretation’ in Interpret Europe Newsletter 4-2022, pg.13-14

Available online: https://interpret-europe.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Newsletter-2022_4-winter.pdf

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