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Steven Thorne

Steven Thorne

Steven is a specialist in 'place-based cultural tourism' - a phrase that Steven coined. He helps cities, towns, and regions to realize their potential for cultural tourism by using his holistic, place-based planning approach. The approach weaves together heritage, arts, culinary, agritourism, and natural history experiences to form a 'cultural tapestry' that reveals a destination's unique cultural character and sense of place. By using Steven's approach, any destination can enhance its appeal to cultural travelers and compete more successfully in the cultural tourism marketplace.

In Steven's words, "For cultural travelers, the visitor experience is about much more than a destination's cultural 'attractions'. It's about encountering a destination's history and heritage, its narratives and stories, its landscape, its townscape, its people. It's about discovering what makes a city, town, or region distinctive, authentic, and memorable. It's about the experience of 'place'. Simply put, the place is the product."

Steven's clients have included Tourism British Columbia, Tourism Prince Edward Island, Ontario's Ministry of Tourism, Parks Canada, and Canadian cities, towns, and institutions from British Columbia to Newfoundland. In the wake of the 2010 Winter Olympics, North America's pre-eminent ski destination - Whistler - invited Steven to help the resort capitalize on cultural tourism. The result was A Tapestry of Place: Whistler's Cultural Tourism Development Strategy - a blueprint for Whistler to diversify its tourism offering though place-based cultural tourism.

Steven's work in cultural tourism is informed by an extensive background in the cultural sector, where he has worked as a theatre artist, educator, and cultural development specialist.

The former Manager of Arts Development for Victoria, BC, and for Kelowna, BC, Steven brings principles of cultural planning and placemaking to destination planning for cultural tourism. He hopes that, over time, his place-based approach to cultural tourism will replace attractions-based cultural tourism - the predominant (and in Steven's view, antiquated) approach to cultural tourism found in the global tourism marketplace.

With a background in academe - he spent 10 years as a theatre lecturer in Canadian universities - Steven is committed to cultural tourism education as well as its practice.

He teaches the course, 'Cultural Tourism: Realizing the Opportunity', offered through the Cultural Resource Management Program at the University of Victoria. In addition, he is a regular guest lecturer in the Graduate Program in Tourism Policy and Planning at the University of Waterloo. He is also a frequent speaker at arts, heritage, tourism, and economic development conferences in Canada and the U.S.

Steven holds a graduate degree in Leisure Studies, specializing in cultural development. In step with his passion for cultural tourism, Steven is an advocate for the preservation of the built environment, and for the preservation of community heritage. He is the author of Polices for Preservation: The Heritage Canada Foundation, 1973 - 1993.

Key areas of expertise

Place-based cultural tourism planning, including asset inventories, market-readiness assessments, SWOT analyses with a focus on product development, facilitating a stakeholder process that identifies the destination's cultural character and sense of place, conceptualizing the destination product, development of theme-branded tour routes, product positioning, place-based marketing.

Steven Thorne