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The Main Street Through a Visitor Lens Handbook is designed to provide main street coordinators, committees and planners with visitor economy related concepts and directions that are user-friendly, strategic and tactical. It was developed using a range of research and engagement efforts with the main street community across Canada. 

The Main Street Through a Visitor Lens Handbook includes 13 separate chapters, written by a variety of people associated with main street organizations, academics, and consultants. The Handbook can be downloaded in its entirety by filling out the form.

If you have any questions please contact Dr. Walter Jamieson ( and Dr. Tom Griffin (

Download the Handbook  

(Firstname Lastname)

Introduction to Handbook and Visitor Economy 

Monday, Oct 25, 2021 webinar

Introduction to the Handbook

This section provides an overview of the handbook’s objectives and discusses the themes, ideas and defines ‘main street,’ while identifying a range of main street challenges and issues. It is organized around the following subsections:

  • Preamble
  • Handbook objectives
  • Initial themes/concepts/ideas
  • Background
  • Defining main street
  • Challenges and opportunities  

1. Understanding the visitor economy, by Dr. Tom Griffin

Monday, Oct 25, 2021 webinar

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION: Dr. Walter Jamieson and Dr. Tom Griffin introduce the Main Street Reminaged Through a Visitor Lens project, and discuss how the visitor economy is useful for the main street community.

1. Understanding the Visitor Economy

An important mandate of many main streets is to attract and welcome visitors from outside their immediate area for the added economic and vibrancy value they bring. In this section, the visitor economy is defined and explored as the potential and actual value add activities for main streets.

  • What Is the Visitor Economy
  • The Benefits and Challenges of Visitors
  • What Is the Product in the Visitor Economy
  • The Visitor Journey
  • Key Questions in Considering the Visitor Economy
  • Conclusion

Main street residents and their visitors, by Dr. Tom Griffin

Recorded on November 22nd, 2021

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION: Dr. Tom Griffin discusses Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) travel, and shares ideas on how main streets could benefit from engaging their residents to invite and host visitors from outside of the community.

  • Introduction
  • Residents attract visitors and affect their behaviour
  • How does hosting visitors affect residents?
  • Possible applications, messages and channels
  • Conclusion
  • Introduction
  • Objectives of a mapping exercise
  • Who should do the mapping?
  • Putting yourself in the visitor’s shoes
  • Possible visitor related 6 resources and experiences
  • Possible data sources and data 7 gathering techniques
  • Accessing and using the data
  • Key takeaways

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION: Tim Kocur, Executive Director of Waterfront BIA, and Judy Morgan, a consultant on main street development, talk about opportunities, challenges, and examples of using data to answer important questions for BIAs. What types of questions and problems can be answered with data? What are some challenges and opportunities for BIAs to collect and understand data? 

Recorded on April 11th, 2022

  • Introduction
  • Define the goal and main questions
  • Who or what will you gather data from?
  • When and for how long should you gather data?
  • How will you gather data?
  • Complex studies

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION: Tanishah Nathoo from Environics Analytics discusses how main street organizations can use existing data sets and services to better understand and measure visitor economy activity and improve their strategic decision making.

Recorded on July 11th, 2022

  • Introduction
  • How we help clients
  • How BIAs can leverage visitor data
  • 4 most common questions from BIAs
  • Who are my visitors and where are they coming from?
  • What lifestyle types are my BIA visitors and residents?
  • How many visits were there to my BIA over time?
  • Who are BIA event visitors?
  • Conclusion

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION: Mary Pattison of ShopLocal2Win, and Carol Jolly Executive Director of The Junction BIA in Toronto, discuss the principles and examples of marketing to a visitor audience for main street organizations.

Recorded on March 28th, 2022

  • Introduction
  • What does ‘marketing’ for visitors mean
  • Guiding principles

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION: Natasha Francis shares findings from her research on the benefits of partnerships between main street organizations and other tourism groups to help develop and promote the visitor economy. David Pensato with The Exchange District BIZ in Winnipeg and  Rebecca Scott with Stratford City Centre BIA in Ontario share their initiatives and experiences of working with organizations to develop visitor product and align efforts across the destination.  Recorded on December 6th, 2021

  • The benefits of partnerships and collaboration
  • Types of partnerships
  • Practical examples
  • Considerations and tips
  • Conclusion

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION: Dr. Frederic Dimanche, Professor with the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Toronto Metropolitan University, shares ideas on the principles of customer experience and service management from a destination viewpoint.

Recorded on February 14th, 2022

  • Introduction
  • Tools to optimize the quality of the visitor experience
  • Conclusion

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION: Martin Lacelle, an expert in local tourism development in rural communities, shares his thoughts and examples of destinations developing visitor product and experience, highlighting common obstacles and ideas on how to overcome them. 

Recorded on January 31st, 2022

  •  Understanding the relationship between main streets and their community
  • Why aren't businesses building new visitor experiences on our main street?
  • Is your main street ready to welcome visitors?
  • So how can my community be more open to tourism development?
  • Conclusion
  • Key takeaways

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION: Dr. Walter Jamieson talks about the value and importance of storytelling for main street communities, with examples from different communities.

Recorded on November 8th, 2021

  • Foreword
  • What is storytelling?
  • Understanding the audience
  • Planning for storytelling
  • Storytelling media
  • Summary

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION: Jeff Bray, Executive Director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association in British Columbia, shares his experience and thoughts on shaping the development of main street and encouraging and curating a mix of businesses and services.

Recorded on March 7th, 2022

  • Introduction
  • Research your main street
  • Forming a Task Force & Cooperation
  • Creating incentives
  • Conclusion
  • Foreword
  • Starting to Understand Main Street ‘After 6’
  • Advantages of the ‘After 6’ Economy
  • Does Your Main Street Have What It Takes?
  • What Can Happen ‘After 6’
  • Achieving Your Main Street’s ‘After 6’ Potential
  • Making It Happen
  • Conclusion

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION: Jaime Izurieta, with (external link) , talks about coaching local businesses and organizations to create great experiences at the sidewalk level to bring in more foot traffic and improve the performance, vitality and social life of main streets and downtowns.

Recorded on May 2nd, 2022

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Every main street, whether it realizes it or not, is or can be part of the visitor economy