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Budget Airlines: Cheap Destinations
Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, NL
Riga International Airport has been recognized as the Third Fastest Growing European Airport, annually since 2019. Although Air Baltic currently operates the majority of flights, Ryanair is the sole carrier to Riga from several locations and announced 16 new routes as of October 2021.
Ryanair's content marketing strategy is to portray its destinations as cheap as its flights. The promotional travel guide for Riga stops at low-priced drinks and nightlife, and Riga is also included in its '11 Cities as Low Cost as Our Flights' listicle. What is not included is the rich heritage of the city and Latvian culture. For instance, the souvenirs in Riga are still largely handmade by local craftspeople, unlike most other European destinations. Although these objects characterise the country's folklore and history, they do not resonate with Ryanair's brand essence of immediate consumption. Between Ryanair being Europe's biggest airline by passenger numbers and the nature of search engine optimisation, its depiction of Riga impacts perceptions of the city and the country.
A collection of traditional Latvian craft objects have been manipulated to demonstrate Ryanair's branding of Riga. Cheap materials and production techniques present a distant, impersonal attitude. A map of Ryanair's Riga flights and excerpts from interviews with tourism experts further emphasise the contradictions between Ryanair's appropriated view and the real legacy of Riga.