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Steven Thorne to reveal cultural tourism plan next week

Sept. 22 chamber luncheon will also honour local leaders in business and at

Exactly three months since Steven Thorne first spoke to Whistler about cultural tourism, the man who has actively evaluated the community aims to unveil his final recommendations.

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Thorne will speak to business leaders throughout the community at the Whistler Chamber luncheon on ways he believes Whistler can enhance its cultural character.

His talk will piggyback on his June 22 presentation at Millennium Place where he first introduced the idea of cultural tourism as a way to grow Whistler's business potential.

"What strikes me most about Whistler is its commitment to charting its own destiny, shaped by the core values that it holds dear," Thorne said this week about his finding. "These core values also help to define Whistler's unique sense of place."

Thorne was reluctant this week to divulge exactly what he will say at the Sept. 22 talk, but he did say he will zero in on Whistler's "strong sense of community bonded by a love of the mountains, a commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability and a spirit of risk-taking."

He said Whistler can improve how it communicates its cultural character through developing and marketing its cultural tourism experiences using a place-based approach.

And, similar to his talk in June, Thorne will also elaborate on the phenomenon of cultural tourism, which he describes as "arguably the single largest motivator of international leisure travel and a major driver of tourism in North America.

"I will also talk about Whistler's opportunity to capitalize on place-based cultural tourism and how that opportunity can pay dividends to Whistler's business community," added Thorne. "I'll reveal a few highlights from the Cultural Tourism Development Plan that I've prepared for the RMOW and offer my take on how Whistler can move ahead."

Thorne is often described as a leading Canadian specialist in the field of cultural tourism. He has worked with cities, towns and regions across Canada to identify ways they can use arts, culture, heritage and cuisine to grow their tourism sector.

He is also the author of Policies for preservation: the Heritage Canada Foundation, 1973 - 1993 and holds a masters degree in Leisure Studies, specializing in cultural development.

Throne was contracted by the Resort Municipality of Whistler in June to develop the Cultural Tourism Plan. His work was paid for by money from Whistler's Cultural Capitals of Canada funding.

As part of his Whistler work, Thorne spent 10 days looking at how assets like the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, Whistler Museum, the village and Function Junction could be used to market local culture.

Meanwhile, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce will also honour the 2010 recipient of the Whistler Business and Arts award at next week's luncheon.

The award is in its seventh year and recognizes local businesses or individuals who have contributed to Whistler's arts and culture scene.

The recipient is chosen from a number of businesses nominated by the arts, culture and heritage organizations of Whistler.

Last year, business leader Sue Adams was recognized for her dedication to the arts in Whistler. Among other things, Adams served as the chair of the board of directors for Maurice Young Millennium Place, donated services and products from her companies Delish Catering and The Grocery Store to arts organizations and events and helped launch the Whistler Theatre Project.

The luncheon will take place between 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the Woodlands Terrace at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Early bird tickets are currently on sale for $30, and on Friday the price goes up to $35. Chamber members get a discount.

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