Economic Development News & Insight


Steven Thorne

Steven Thorne

Steven Thorne 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 company's holistic, place-based planning approach. The approach weaves together heritage, arts, culinary, agritourism, and natural history experiences to form a tapestry that reveals a destination's unique cultural "terroir" 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 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 BC, Tourism PEI, Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism, Parks Canada, and cities, towns, and institutions from British Columbia to Newfoundland. In the wake of the 2010 Olympics, he authored "A Tapestry of Place: Whistler's Cultural Tourism Development Strategy". Recent projects include strategies for Huntsville/Lake of Bays, Ontario; and for BC’s Columbia Valley. The former Manager of Arts Development for Greater Victoria, BC, and for the City of Kelowna, BC, Steven brings principles of cultural planning and creative 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 approach (and in Steven's view, both antiquated and obsolete) that is found in the global tourism marketplace. Committed to cultural tourism education as well as its practice, Steven teaches the course, "Cultural Tourism: Realizing the Opportunity", offered through the Cultural Resource Management Program at the University of Victoria. He has also lectured in the Graduate Program in Tourism Policy and Planning at the University of Waterloo. In 2012, he served as an editorial adviser and contributor to "Cultural & Heritage Tourism: A Handbook for Community Champions", published by Canada's Federal Provincial Territorial Ministers of Culture and Heritage. Steven lives in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, with his black cat, "Kahlua". Twitter: @_StevenThorneLinkedIn

Articles Posted by Steven Thorne

Featured Contributor: Steven Thorne

For this edition of our Featured Contributor series, I had a chance to hear from Steven Thorne. Steven is one of our most popular contributors, More...

How America’s cultural tourism industry has left Canada behind

Several years ago, I was on the phone with Louise Stevens. Louise is an arts consultant in the United States, who, along with her husband More...

Canada’s cultural tourism industry: The numbers shouldn’t surprise us

In my last post, I talked about place-based cultural tourism – an approach to destination planning I’ve developed to maximize a community’s ability to attract More...

Place-based cultural tourism: A new planning paradigm

For the past decade, my work has focused on destination planning for cultural tourism.  Using principles and practices of cultural planning pioneered by my friend More...