I read with interest the letter to the editor from Doug Player ("Geotourism Is The Future"; April 7). On behalf of the Cultural Tourism Advisory Group, I'd like to clarify two points regarding the Cultural Tourism consultant and report.
First, the cost of A Tapestry of Place - Whistler's Cultural Tourism Development Strategy was paid for by the Government of Canada; specifically by the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH).
As a reminder, the RMOW received $500,000 from PCH when Whistler was designated a Cultural Capital of Canada in 2009.
The majority of those funds were used to enhance programming in a wide range of cultural initiatives during 2009 as well as during the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. A portion of the funds provided by PCH paid for Mr. Thorne's consulting fee including the cost of travel.
Secondly, according to Mr. Player: "...most tourism departments have long since abandoned the term cultural tourism in favour of geotourism, a phrase coined by Jonathan Tourtellot. Geotourism is defined as 'tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place-its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture, and the well-being of its residents.'" He goes on: "Geotourism is more all encompassing and when you look at the demographics of our travelling public (see http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/pf/78009044.html < http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/pf/78009044.html > ) geotourism would be much better applied to Whistler.
Allow me to expand on Mr. Player's perspective. In fact, the term "geotourism" is not widely used in the tourism industry. However, it is widely used by one organization: the National Geographic Society's Center for Sustainable Destinations, which has promoted place-based cultural tourism for many years. Similarly, "civic tourism" is another moniker that is interchangeable with place-based cultural tourism, and is occasionally used in the tourism industry in the American southwest.
In the global tourism industry, "cultural tourism" has long been, and remains, standard terminology for travel inspired by the arts, heritage, culinary, and distinctive lifestyle offerings of a city, town, or region.
By including "place-based" as a prefix to cultural tourism, this brings focus to the obvious: for cultural travellers, the travel experience is all about "the place."
These are exciting times as Whistler begins to explore programs, products and promotions to attract cultural travellers to the remarkable place called Whistler.
Thank you for continuing to shine a light on place-based cultural tourism. The ongoing dialogue is welcome and invigorating!
John A. Rae
RMOW manager strategic alliances
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(This letter was addressed to Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy and Council members.)
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