With its own set of linguistic luggage that includes terms such as "authentic" and "passionate cultural travellers," cultural tourism can be travel that's "attraction-based" – such as a museum or festival – or "place-based," in which tourists seek out a region to experience a range of attractions or activities. Whistler wants to become a place-based cultural destination.
Cultural travellers can be divided into smaller groups of enthusiasts, based on categories that include heritage, visual arts, wine and culinary and performing arts.
Cultural tourists tend to be older (45-plus), well-educated (more than half have university degrees) and well-off (22 per cent have a household income greater than $100,000).
Of the 7,000 riders registered in this year's RBC GranFondo, 78 per cent are male, the average age is 47 and one in five participants reported an income of more than $200,000.
The Canadian Tourism Commission last month launched a Signature Experiences Collection – a promotional campaign, geared to well-heeled international travellers, featuring "experiences" including lobster cruises in New Brunswick and chef dinners and gourmet kayaking tours through Granville-Island-based Edible Canada (formerly Edible B.C.)
In the wake of the 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler has a window of opportunity to leverage its national profile and develop cultural tourism, consultant Steven Thorne said in a 2010 report commissioned by the Resort Municipality of Whistler. Mr. Thorne also identified several pitfalls, including the fact that culture is "not a core value" in the community, noting that "Whistler's success in developing as a premier ski, snowboard and mountain-biking destination was fuelled, and remains fuelled today, by the passion of its residents for alpine sports and an alpine lifestyle.
"To the extent that Whistlerites do not possess a similar passion for heritage, arts and culture, and view cultural tourism primarily through the lens of economic development, the long-term commitment required to develop cultural tourism will not be secure," the report said.