The diversity of the leisure industry

1.0 Introduction

For many people leisure to them might mean when one has free time or when one is unoccupied with duties or responsibilities. For some, leisure could be a luxury for their free time; this could be because of a number of reasons such as, they could be a workaholic where they work compulsively at the expense of their activities or they could be people who live in complex societies such as in robust towns and cities. For some, leisure could be a necessity because they believe in proper balance of social and family life.

For some others, leisure to them might mean to just socialize and communicate with one another. For example going to the cinema with your friends is considered a leisure activity, but some people believe that leisure is all mainly active sports such indoor football or squash which means they all have their own definition on leisure. This would suggest that people define leisure on different terms depending on how their backgrounds are and other key factors such as culture, gender, age, economic status and social class.

Leisure is defined as: ‘Time at one’s command, free from engagement; convenient opportunity; hence, convenience; ease’. (BrainyMedia, 2009)

The Leisure industry has much diversity such as various activities and the many elements of it such as race/ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation and ability/disability. Some activities would be linked to a cultural and linguistically diverse background.

There is a diverse range of activities available for your unoccupied time such as, your hobbies like gardening, shopping, spectators sport, holidays and gambling. There are three main types of leisure, active, passive and home based. All three include many diverse activities such as, hiking, home entertainment or even just reading could be considered as a leisure activity. Many school students can benefit from the diverse leisure pursuits because they get offered a range of after school clubs making leisure activities more participle and recreational.

1.1 Active leisure activities

There are many active pursuits that we can take part in. Active pursuits can be high impact or low impact activities. Low impact activities like walking and yoga do not expend high levels of energy, usually have little contact or competition and does not require much equipment. In the other side there are high impact activities such as wrestling and rugby, which are competitive sports that require quite a fair amount of equipments.

Active Pursuits:

  • Indoor – Badminton, basketball, squash, volleyball, athletics, gymnastics, hockey, bowling and boxing.
  • Outdoor – Motocross, jogging, beach volleyball, golf, canoeing, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, rowing, sailing and handball
  • Team- Rugby, water polo, netball, American football, cricket, baseball, soccer, rallying and korfball.
  • Individuals – Surfing, archery, triathlon, canoeing, barrel racing, snooker and pool.
  • Countryside – Walking, mountain biking, sailing, hiking, cross country and climbing
  • Urban – Skateboarding, free running, wakeboarding, ultimate, parkour and BMX

They are described as ‘active’ leisure because it requires some level of movement and skill for that particular sport. Some because of its competitiveness or some because of its high energy level input towards the sport. For it to be a high energy sport, the activity has to initiate a higher heart rate than normal, for example skiing because it involves a lot of focus, awareness and adrenaline rushes.

Some sports such as sky diving, bungee jumping and base jumping are considered high impact active pursuits because it exerts high levels of adrenaline and elevates heart rates to exceedingly high levels. Those types of pursuits require a lot of motivation and some skills. Whether it’s for competition or for thrills and excitements they all share a common characteristic: they’re all dynamic; require high levels of motivation and some degree of skills; and are usually practiced outside our homes with other people.

The benefits with all active pursuits are that it keeps us fit and healthy (physically and psychologically), it improves our general health, it helps us meet new people (psychologically and socially) and it can increase our poise and self-esteem (psychologically).

Active Leisure activities however old we are and what motivation or skills we have, there is an active leisure pursuit to suit all our needs. The range of active pursuits is very diverse, from boxing to playing hockey and even to visit theme parks is considered as an active leisure pursuit, because they all involve some type active motion at high levels. Some activities don’t even require much energy outputs such as chess and painting. The reason they are considered as active leisure activities is because they both require a substantial amount of mental effort and so cannot be considered as passive activities. Definition: “engaged in action; characterized by energetic work, participation, etc.; busy: an active life, being in a state of existence, progress, or motion: active hostilities”. (Dictionery, 2002)

1.2 Passive leisure activities

Passive activities are as diverse as active pursuits; they both share similar amounts of motivation and skills. Passive activities mainly benefit a person’s mental health; it is most commonly related to a source of relaxation or to unwind from daily stress. In terms of health, passive pursuits don’t offer as many benefits as active pursuits but it is ideally reflected on the person’s age, lifestyle and interests.

Passive pursuits:

Shopping – ‘UK and Mintel’s research reveals that 84% of the UK’s adult population enjoy shopping/browsing for goods in person, while 33%, or 60% of Internet users, enjoy shopping or browsing for goods online’.(Mintel, 2009)

The UK is arguably one of the most sophisticated retail environments in the whole of Europe. This data also states how popular shopping as a passive leisure activity really is among Great Britain’s population.

Cinema – Age has no relative effect on visiting cinemas as a passive activity but there have been many new releases of universal and PG movies for young people. There is a steady increase in the amount of young people attending cinemas but the large majority of visitors are still the adult group, as shown in figure 1. There are many reasons why there are a larger majority of adults over young people in cinemas. One because of age limits for certain films, where only the adults can benefit from this and not the young. Two because of the amount of free time the adults have against a stricter curfew for the young. Or thirdly because the adults have more spending ability than most young people.

Eating out – This relates to night time entertainments such as going to the pub and clubbing. The reason why people eat out more is because it’s a lot less stress to cook yourself, a lot cheaper and it’s more relaxing to order from a menu rather than have to get up and self serve again and again.

This graph shows that people with a high income salary can buy more amounts of pizza than the other groups. The people with a low income salary prefer to have fish and chips over the rest, most probably because it’s cheaper to buy or it could be their pattern of food choice (interests). The people with an average salary buy more fish and chips than the other groups and have the occasional hamburgers and pizza.

Passive leisure activities are mostly based on your free time and what you do with it. This means the person is away from any type of work or duties/responsibilities. Passive pursuits don’t exert or expand your physical or mental energy. Most of our pursuits tend to reflect on our age, lifestyle, interests and spending power. An example would be figure 2 where it shows clearly how it affects people’s choices.

Definition: ‘not participating readily or actively; inactive:being the object of action rather than causing action (opposed to ACTIVE);inert or quiescent’.(Dictionery, Passive, 2002)

1.3 Home-based leisure pursuits

Home-based leisure pursuits aren’t as diverse or dynamic as active or passive pursuits because you’re confined to your home with fewer contacts to socialize with. The more money spent indoors the better the home entertainment but this would depend on the person’s lifestyle, age, interests and income value. There has recently been a government initiative to get the UK ready for a digital revolution, so home-based leisure pursuits can increase in popularity because with the new additions people can expect changes in picture quality, variety, sound quality and the availability of channels. There are four main categories for home-based leisure and they are:

Reading – There are many varieties of texts which anyone could read such as newspapers, magazines, novels, documents and short stories. There are many people who read these for their home-based pursuit. Reading has many benefits, for example it can develop a person’s literacy skills and make the person more confident (psychologically). Reading is typically an individual activity, where if you prefer to read out loud than you relate to a form of intrapersonal communication. Reading can be done almost anywhere but it’s preferable to read at home than somewhere else, also people can read books and other texts online for free so there are more benefits by saving money If someone does read through the internet.

House and garden – There are more and more people participating in improving their homes, mainly because of popular DIY related TV shows and magazines. This has lead to an increase in homes being developed for profitable use. The DIY market hasn’t been recovering much with all servicing for the mortgage and securing employment it seems to be difficult for the DIY market to progress. Gardening is an activity which is popular amongst older age groups and is increasing in popularity. The increase in the demographic population could be one of the reasons why gardening has had its boost in participants.

Home Entertainment – There has been many new innovations in home technology such as with cable, digital, satellite TV, Blue ray players, DVD’s and internet TV . The biggest increase in the market has to be with computers and computer games.

Hobbies and past times – There has been a recent trend to fuse traditional and modern concepts. Electronic toys are particularly popular, and keeping a pet as a hobby is ever popular despite increasing pet-care costs.

They are described as home-based pursuits because they all involve the use of the person’s home in one way or another. Whether it’s gardening, DIY or playing computer games it is directly stated as home-based leisure because its activities you participate in, while at home.

1.4 Regional variation

Regional variations have impacts on certain types of sports or leisure activities. For example mountaineering would be more popular in Scotland rather than in rural parts of England and Wales. With variations come differences in sports, such as Gaelic football may be a local favourite in some parts of Ireland but in some other regions they may prefer flat green bowling. Some reasons for the difference could be because, various regions might have a high elderly age average and so prefer flat green bowling over other activities or it may be because Gaelic football might not be part of their history or culture, so it would not be passed down from generation to generation.

Age and athleticism isn’t the main factor in regional variations. There are many criteria’s which limit the popularity and importance of an activity in various regions. For example weather, skiing is far more popular in places like France and Sweden rather than in Great Britain mainly because the climate in Great Britain always changes, so snow can never be guaranteed. While places in France and Sweden can guarantee snow most of the year round. Equivalent with sailing, Great Britain would have a much higher participation rate in sailing compared to other countries such as Netherlands or Belgium because Great Britain’s coastline is around ‘12429 km'(Wikipedia, 2007) long and Netherlands is estimated to be about ‘451 km’ (Answer, 2008).

Some regional variations could occur because of a lack of space. People who live in urban areas have to find other activities which best suit their lifestyles, such as indoor activities (where space is open and not limited) Parkour, free running and other urban activities. Participation rates are also affected by regional variations because people who live in built up areas are less likely to take up an active activity than other regions.

‘There are surprisingly wide variations in levels of participation. For example, sports participation rates in Moray are nearly twice those of Glasgow’.(Sports Scotland, 2006)

Landscape is also an important factor in regional variations. Hiking and mountain climbing would be much more popular in Scotland rather than in England because Scotland has many mountains and wilderness/countryside whilst England lack the mountains and wilderness.

Demographic population levels also affect regional variations because countries with a high population level will take part in more well known sports such as rugby or football. Whilst countries with less populated people would prefer their home sports rather than most common ones such as bandy in Poland.

1.5 Summary

The diversity of the leisure industry ranges from many criteria’s such as skydiving to spectator sports to working out to even just loving cars. It is one of the most commonly used aspects in our lives because it plays a key role in the economy, business, marketing and communities across the UK and Europe.

This chart below shows the diversity and range of the leisure industry.

1.6 Scale of the industry

The scale of the leisure industry is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the UK and Europe. A good example of this criterion is the new development of Camberly town centre. The following data shows the scale of the Atrium, its developments, its participation rates and its plans for housing and employment.

Original Development:

The development of Camberley as an original development only had one shopping centre (The Mall) which is built around the Main Square in the late 1980s. The Mall hosts a large variety of high street shops such as H.Samuel, Argos, Primark, House of Fraser and many more. These shops today really have anchored the development of Camberley towards higher grounds for a much more efficient and entertain able Camberley.

Multiplier effect stage 1:

There was much debate and delays (plans having been discussed for over half a decade) on the construction of ‘The Atrium’ which started in May 2006. The new development includes ‘residential, leisure and retail facilities, as well as a 900 space car park. There are 217 ‘design-led’ apartments divided into three areas within the complex (named Centro, Aspect and Courtyard)’. (Wikipedia, 2008)

Multiplier effect stage 2:

Month (2009)

Unique Individuals

















After the development of ‘The Atrium’ many associated leisure venues were built soon after. These include Nandos, Frank and Bennies, Bella Italia, Starbucks and a Vue cinema theatre. Transport to the new attraction sites was predominantly important in the planning stages so they decided to build a convenient bus stop right outside the site for easier access to ‘The Atrium’, ‘The Mall’ and the residential area. For this to happen there needed to be a new road built which would allow easier access for all convenient transport.

(Surrey Heath Borough Council ‘Leading for tommorow’, 2009)

The graph above shows the number of unique individuals who enter ‘The Atrium’ each month. The average amount of people who do enter ‘The Atrium’ is 36,731. The graph also shows that there were more people visiting ‘The Atrium’ in the earlier months from January towards April.

Multiplier Effect Stage 3:

There are also many sports facilities (old and new) around ‘The Atrium’ such as , Vital club, Fitness First Camberley, Gold’s Gym and many more. ‘The Atrium’ has many leisure facilities which include pool tables, arcade, bowling, bars and a lounge with monitors.

Housing and Employment plans:

Below are the set plans for the development of housing and employment in the Camberley district. It explains the availability of affordable accommodation for residents and its future plans. The employment development will include new offices, shopping facilities and some key schemes. 2 bedroom flats will be sold for around £216,950 with kitchen en suite and outside parking.

‘The provision of residential units as part of mixed use development will be encouraged throughout much of the town centre.

This will enable the current very low levels of residential accommodation within the Centre to be increased thereby enhancing its vitality and making it a more sustainable location.

Higher density accommodation with an affordable element will be the most appropriate form of residential.

Around 500 dwellings could be built up to 2026 around the town centre. This includes the 217 dwelling currently being built as part of The Atrium.’

Source: (Surrey Heath Borough Council ‘Leading for tommorow’, 2009)

‘New employment development such as offices will be allowed.

The Town Centre needs to keep most of its offices – it’s a good location for employment floor space being close to transport and shopping facilities.

There is a high vacancy rate in the stock of offices in the Town Centre.

For this reason, the loss of some offices will be allowed where it helps achieve some key schemes in the Town Centre.’

Source: (Surrey Heath Borough Council ‘Leading for tommorow’, 2009)

Recent Economy:

The graph below shows the properties in Camberley sold per month. As seen on the graph the most properties that were sold were the new residential flats near The Atrium, from May to July 06 the properties sold were at their highest, peaking at more than 100 flats sold in a space of two months. That would average about 2 flats sold a day. So as soon when The Atrium opened with the apartments the pattern in property sales rose significantly to a much higher level.

Source: (Globrix Corporation, 2009)

So the economical value for Camberley Town is at a high rate with new jobs being created and more leisure activities available and new apartments being built, The Atrium should show a significant rise in profit in a few years time, even when the recession hits hardest.

1.7 Importance of the industry

Participation rates for the teen and adult groups

Participation: Gymnastics

‘There has been a significant increase (from 0.1% to 0.2%) of 30,000 gymnastics participants between 2005/6 and 2007/8. 89,000 adults (age 16 and over) have participated in gymnastics at least once a week. Male participation has also increased from 0.07% in Active People Survey 1 to 0.10%.’

Overall participation in gymnastics has increased in England; there has also been a statistically significant increase in the South East, South West and West Midlands regions.

Participation: Badminton

‘Participation in badminton has increased among the non white population from 1.7% to

2.1%, an increase of 25,000 participants. There has been no statistically significant change in participation within gender or disability sub groups such as the age groups 16-19, 20-24 and 25-29.’

Participation – once in the last four weeks

‘940,000 adults have participated in badminton at least once in the last four weeks. This represents 2.3% of the adult population, and there has been no statistically significant change in participation between 2005/6 and 2007/8.’

(Sport England Government, 2008)

There has been no significant statistical change in badminton participation in any of the English regions recently, reflected by the static participation rates at a national level.

Active Lifestyle:

Sport England plan to encourage an active lifestyle by using sport and recreation as one of the building blocks of planning and delivery for sustainable and healthier communities.

They Identify opportunities for delivering and enhanced quality of life for communities, in the short, medium and longer term.

‘Sport England seeks to engage with planners at regional and local levels to help ensure that the interests of sport and active recreation are well represented actively promoted and appropriately developed in the interests of all’. (Sport England Government, 2009)

Themes for Spatial Planning

Outcomes of Change for Sport and Active Recreation

Environmental sustainability

Community safety

Local economic viability

Improving quality of life and well-being

Health improvement

Raising standards in schools

Increasing participation on sport and active recreation

Improving levels of performance

Widening access

Improving health and well-being

Stronger and safer communities

Improving education

Benefiting the economy

(Sport England Government, 2008-2009)

Other benefits:

Other benefits which could lead to inspiration and encouragement is different strategies such as respect of community, crime/disorder reduction, neighbourhood renewal strategies and corporate plans.

  1. Environmental Sustainability – sport and recreation can contribute to the sustainable use of natural resources.
  2. Community Safety – sport can help to directly reduce social neglect and participation.
  3. Quality of Life and Well-Being – physical activity contributes to people’s experience of well-being and sense of partnership with their surroundings.
  4. Health Improvement – physical activity should be a natural part of everyday life.
  5. Raising Standards in Schools – the foundations of life-long health and sporting excellence lie in early opportunities for taking part in sport and active leisure.