The hall of the auditorium Mar de Vigo turned into an original stage, surrounded by stalls in the shape of a spiral, symbolising the millennial labyrinth rock carving in Mogor. As the guiding thread of the story, Captain Nemo, a universal character by Jules Verne, returned to As Rías Baixas, 150 years after the Nautilus had roamed the depths of the Ría de Vigo, to talk about the main attractions of this land.
Guided by the literary character and his prisoner, Professor Aronnax, the audience at the auditorium and the people who watched the gala via live streaming on the Turismo Rías Baixas website got immersed in the rich heritage of the province of Pontevedra. Castles, fortresses, castros (pre-Roman settlements), monasteries, festivals, writers linked to this destination, beautiful natural landscapes, gardens and museums are the main ingredients of the campaign "We are stories".
The background of the stage was adorned with a canvas bearing the slogan of the campaign and a collage with some of the main attractions and symbols of the province: the Soutomaior Castle, the cascade Fervenza do Toxa, the Monastery of Oia, the Rande Bridge and the camellia. The labyrinth, which showed the evolution of our heritage over time, is the symbol of the promotion campaign.
Historic characters, documentaries and films, and the live performance of the duet Voodoo were part of a ceremony with labyrinth-like stalls
Some members of the company Limiar Teatro played the characters who, after posing in the photocall "We are stories", strolled the carpet of the Gala. Nemo, who confessed that he used to visit As Rías Baixas whenever he could, entered the auditorium with Aronnax, in the beginning of the ceremony. As the event progressed, more characters appeared: María Vinyals, a writer born in the Soutomaior Castle, who was also the main character of the short film of the campaign "Somos Historias"; the popular Queen Urraca; and a magic character, the moura (women moor), who danced to the rhythm of a mystic song, performed by Nemo. During the event, several allusions were made to the ghost, known as Alemanote, who, according to the legend, still wanders around Soutomaior Castle.
During the section of the event devoted to the literary heritage, the writer María Victoria Moreno, honoured this year on the Galician Literature Day, participated in a fictional interview. This activist of the Galician language was originally from the region of Extremadura but established her residence in Pontevedra. During the interview, the actress who played the role of Victoria Moreno explained the strong bonds of great writers with As Rías Baixas, such as Jules Verne, Valle-Inclán, Cortázar, Emilia Pardo Bazán or Rosalía de Castro.
The Entroidos (carnival events) of Tourist Interest in Galicia celebrated thorughout the province were the central theme of two great moments of the ceremony. The madamas and galáns of the traditional Entroido de Cobres danced in front of the audience wearing colourful dresses and hats, whereas the Xenerais da Ulla were the protagonists of a verbal battle.
Videos on literature, nature and museums
The heritage of the province was presented in the short film already mentioned, released in FITUR in January 2018, and in other three videos: natural spaces, such as the Miño River or the hill Serra do Candán; writers born in or linked to the province of Pontevedra; and museums, such as the Museum of Pontevedra, Quiñones de León, MASAT, or the Galician Museum of the Marionette, among others.
The Dance of Cobres and a verbal battle between the Xenerais da Ulla made the event where the SICTED quality labels were given even more colourful
The event also recognised the work of the organizations that had been awarded the SICTED quality label, 263 this year (sixty more than in 2017). Representatives from the awarded companies were given the SICTED certificates by the president of the Deputación, Carmela Silva; the representative of the Department of Tourism in the province, Santos Héctor Rodríguez; and majors of different municipalities in the province. The event was hosted by the major of Vigo, Abel Caballero, president of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP).
The duet Voodoo, whose music is inspired in the Galician traditional music combined with soul and blues, played eight songs. These were the soundtrack of the SICTED award ceremony and of the group photography taken at the end of the event. The members of the band, Maritxinha and Belén Tajes, who was also the lead singer of the band Luar na Lubre, won the prize Martín Códax of Galician Music in the category blues/funk/soul.
Golden age for the tourism in the province
"Nowadays, Rías Baixas are not a destination of just sun and beach. Who visits this land knows that we have much more to offer, and we want to make it known," said the president of the Deputación in her speech, and added that "tourism in the province of Pontevedra is living a golden age." She added that "of the five million visitors who came to Galicia in 2017, 36 % of them stayed in As Rías Baixas."
Sustainable tourism, deseasonalization and internationalisation are three of the main aims of the Deputación, which has developed a strategic plan recently approved. It also created the Tourism Board, including the most important public and private institutions related to the tourism sector in the province.
"We want to attract visitors from January to December, and we have everything to achieve this aim: not only because we have the best attractions but also for the professionalism and competence of the sector. The world is discovering this destination, and we are better connected, we have an airport, Peinador, with more than one million passengers, which makes us part of the European markets", Carmela Silva explained. She also made special emphasis on the "heritage treasures" in As Rías Baixas.
A tasting event of the products served in the Festivals of Tourist Interest was also held at the ceremony
The most important festivals in the province are also key in the campaign. A catering was prepared, including products of the nine events declared of International or National Tourist Interest. The Arribada de Baiona (a recreation of the arrival of the caravel La Pinta at Baiona), Rapa das Bestas in Sabucedo (an event where the manes of the wild horses are cut); Romaría Vikinga in Catoira (a commemoration of the arrival of the Vikings in the town); and the flower carpets of the Corpus Christi in Ponteareas are included in the international category. On the other hand, in the national category: the Feira do Cocido (Galician stew festival), Festa do Albariño in Cambados (Albariño Wine Festival), Festa do Marisco in O Grove (Shellfish Festival), Festa da Lamprea in Arbo (Festival of the Lamprey) and the Festa da Auga in Vilagarcía de Arousa (Festival of the Water), in the national category. During the tasting event, a video on these popular festivals was projected.
Captain Nemo gave the farewell speech of the ceremony, shortly before the family photo of all participants, quoting Verne's words in his masterpiece from 1870: "Well, Professor Aronnax, we're actually in that Bay of Vigo, and all that's left is for you to probe the mysteries of As Rías Baixas."