Saturday, February 26th started quite early for Lana and I. We were off at 6:00 a.m. to participate in the Living History Conference in Hamilton. This is an annual conference organized by members of the War of 1812 re-enactment community. Lana and I created a display and were ready to talk to the many attendees about our HUGE War of 1812 re-enactment we are hosting the first weekend in October.
The conference took place at Mohawk College with close to 200 attendees and 20 seminars. The seminars were on many different topics including, but not limited to, women’s fashion, musket maintenance and planning for the Battle of Waterloo Bicentennial in 2015. I did not attend the sessions this year, I was there purely for our display. I really enjoy going to these events and socializing with the participants. One gentleman, whom I will call the Cannon Captain, gave me a huge hug when he saw me! This really brightened up my day, I have known this man for three years and I really enjoy talking and getting to know him.
Although, Saturday was a 12 hour day I really enjoyed myself; talking to the many acquaintances I have made and the ones I hope to meet in the future!
London is an urban centre long known at the hub of South Western Ontario. It has a wealth of cultural organizations, well developed community infrastructure for sport, recreation, health and social services , a respected university and college as well as strong commercial, business and industrial sectors. People are drawn here for education and employment, but stay because it is a good place to live. The recent Creative Cities initiative articulates London’s sense of place and sets a strategic direction for the development of London as a creative city . The research that supports the Creative Cities concept demonstrates that cities with a unique sense of place are great places to live and visit. They retain a creative workforce and attract the cultural tourists. Preserving that sense of place is the function of cultural organizations in this city. A cultural tourism initiative that is well conceived and targeted, preserves place. It is exactly those characteristics that makes London a good place to live that also makes London an ideal cultural tourism destination.
Cultural tourism is a market segment. This particular group of travellers have common characteristics. Extensively documented in Travel Activity and Motivation Survey Segmentation reports produced by the Canadian Tourism Commission, Cultural tourists can be divided by cohorts according to their primary motivation for travel and interest:
Implementation of a cultural tourism initiative can be achieved on a phased basis over five years with existing municipal funds. A small team representative of the London Heritage Council, Tourism London and any interested anchor heritage or art assets can manage this project. The first step for the team is to develop a destination typology for London and define the sense of place. Very good work has already been completed in this area by the Creative Cities initiative. The team needs to prepare 2 - 4 paragraphs that accurately define the sense of place that is London, Ontario. Once the sense of place is determined, the team needs to take existing inventories of cultural experiences and identify what is unique about the cultural experience of London. Themes will become apparent. Finally, the team needs to organize cultural experiences by cultural cohorts, using the latest TAMs to ensure these experiences meet the needs of the customers. Key here is to match the assets with the interests of the cultural tourist.
It is anticipated that there will be far more cultural experiences than can be used. Many of the existing cultural tourism assets have already been identified by Tourism London. This inventory needs to be expanded with assets identified by both the London Heritage Council and the London Art Council to ensure a good critical mass of experiences to target each cultural...