How’s WLO approaching this new Congress? What do you expect to get as the final message from the event?
With over half the world population now living in cities we felt it important to look how leisure in all its forms – from tourism to sport; from recreation to festivals; from play to cultural activities – is provided for in various communities around the globe. We also want to consider how leisure, increasingly, is making a significant contribution to social, cultural and economic development. From the debates and discussion at the Congress, we hope that there is a clearer understanding that investing in leisure is both about economic development and about contributing to improvements to the quality of life in communities.
The subtitle of the Congress says “after 2012 leisure will not be the same”: how is leisure changing?
Alongside the growth of cities, there is a growing proportion of the world’s population which is classified as “middle-class”. It is the middle-class which drives forward economic growth and consumerism. We need to respond to their demands for more leisure opportunities at home and abroad while at the same time having a concern for those millions of people around the world for whom leisure is a mere aspiration as they struggle to survive. Within both contexts, leisure is changing as the type and scale of demand changes for individual leisure opportunities, for increased travel, for more adventurous activities balanced at the moment with the financial constraints many communities are facing. Above all, leisure is changing as a greater understanding of its benefits are appreciated and taken into account in policy development and implementation. It is moving from a peripheral to a more central aspect of the strategies of communities, cities and countries.
And, how’s the World Leisure Organization managing this change?
As leisure has been changing so too has the World Leisure Organization. While maintaining a vital link with the academic community which provides so much research and enquiry into leisure, we have developed many more contacts among those responsible for policy planning and implementation whether within the United Nations, specific cities and countries. In addition we now have a developing number of programmes which, in concert, with host cities, directly involve communities and help them to appreciate the range of leisure opportunities available. Internally our Board has diversified in terms of skills, gender and georgraphical origin reflecting the worldwide interest in the area.
Why being in Rimini fro the Congress?
It is often argued that the historic cradle for leisure pursuits is found in Italy. In addition, in Rimini we have a clear example of a community where a significant element of its economic base is found in leisure especially tourism and in a tourist market which is in transformation. Those credentials linked to an attractive environment, a brand new Conference Centre and opportunities for delegates to have a taste of Italy made it an attractive location for our Congress. We are looking forward to an exciting Congress in both an historic and exciting locality.