Changing leisure patterns


  • Leisure: Any freely chosen activity or experience that takes place in non‑work time.
  • Recreation: A leisure‑time activity undertaken voluntarily and for enjoyment. It includes individual pursuits, organized outings and events, and non‑paid (non‑professional) sports.
  • Resort: A settlement where the primary function is tourism. This includes a hotel complex.
  • Sport: A physical activity involving a set of rules or customs. The activity may be competitive.
  • Tourism: Travel away from home for at least one night for the purpose of leisure. Note that this definition excludes day‑trippers. There are many possible subdivisions of tourism.
  • Carrying capacity: The maximum number of visitors/participants that a site/event can satisfy at one time. It is customary to distinguish between:
    • environmental carrying capacity (the maximum number before the local environment becomes damaged) and
    • perceptual carrying capacity (the maximum number before a specific group of visitors considers the level of impact, such as noise, to be excessive). For example, young mountain bikers may be more crowd‑tolerant than elderly walkers.

Factors accounting for the growth in tourism in different geographic and developmental contexts

Over the years, there has been an increase in leisure time in many parts of the world. Figure 2.3 shows the daily average time taken by leisure in 18 OECD countries. The data shows that Norwegians have more leisure time per day than in any OECD member country. Mexico has the lowest leisure time per day.

The reasons for the increase in leisure time could be due to the following:

  1. Increase in disposable income

Disposable income refers to the income that is available to a person after tax. In most countries disposable income has increased, allowing people to save a significant percentage of their income for leisure or tourism. This is particularly so in advanced countries like the USA, Canada and the UK. Furthermore, in some organizations, 10% of their income is saved and given to them at the end of the year for them to embark on tourism.

2. Increase in advertisement

This has made it possible for people to know where they can visit for tourism. For instance, CNN advertises Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Turkey etc, which encourages people to visit tourist centers in these countries. Inflight advertisement showing places you can visit upon arrival at your destination also increase people’s chances of visiting tourist centers in the country of destination.

3. Improvement in transportation

Concorde: Wikipedia

Improved air, sea and land transport has made it easier and possible to reach many tourist destinations. For instance, the world’s fastest aircraft, the Concorde, was twice faster than the speed of sound. This served as a motivation for people to travel via Concorde to some tourist destinations (Concorde has since been grounded after the 1998 air disaster). Also, there are high-speed trains that can travel about 300km per hour. This has shortened the distance between places, thus allowing people to embark on journeys at a much faster rate. Large cruise ships also promote packaged tours to places such as Venice in Italy or other Caribbean islands – all contributing to people’s chances of engaging in tourism. Below is an example of such a cruise ship, with excellent facilities to encourage tourism.

4. Cheaper cost of transportation

Cheaper airfares and cheaper costs of travel by sea have also contributed to reducing the cost of travel, thereby encouraging people to visit tourist destinations in many parts of the world. For example, the large passenger plane, Airbus A320 can carry over 400 passengers at a time. This has helped to reduce the cost of air travel, as many passengers would mean lower airfare per passenger.

5. More leisure time for most workers: For instance, teachers have 13 weeks of holidays so they can decide to go anywhere they want. Reduction in the number of working days and hours for some workers in government institutions in some countries have also contributed in increased leisure time.

6. Paid leaves.

7. Early retirement:

8. Development in technology: People spend less time on house chores, hence more time for leisure. To what extent is this point valid?

Question: Explain changes in international tourism that have led to an increase in the number of tourists vising remote areas of the world.

  1. Improvement in technology.
    1. Internet services have led to an increase in the advertisement of tourist destinations.
    2. Improvement in air transport has made air transport cheaper and faster.
    3. Enabling people to book online or online transactions.
    4. Improvement in weather forecast which has helped to predict the weather accurately.
  2. Development of infrastructure.
    1. Places that were not accessible, pathways have been developed to enable people to get there.

Categorization of tourism and sporting activities


  • Group1- Athletics and Rugby (Archery, American football, Lacrosse, Gymnastics
  • Group 2- Dancing and Yoga (aerobics, Pilates)
  • Group 3- Outdoor sports (fishing, cycling)
  • Group 4- Swimming, Cycling and gym
  • Group 5- Racquet sports and running. (Badminton)
  • Group 6- Bowing
  • Group 7- Cricket, football, pub sports


  • Primary tourist/recreational resources – the pre‑existing attractions for tourism or recreation (that is, those not built specifically for the purpose), including climate, scenery, wildlife, indigenous people, cultural and heritage sites.
  • Secondary tourist/recreational resources, which include accommodation, catering, entertainment and shopping.
  • Ecotourism—tourism focusing on the natural environment and local communities
  • Heritage tourism—tourism based on a historic legacy (landscape feature, historic building or event) as its major attraction
  • Sustainable tourism—tourism that conserves primary tourist resources and supports the livelihoods and culture of local people
  • Mass tourism
  • Medical tourism
  • Adventure tourism
  • Niche tourism
  • Sex tourism

Relationship between economic development and participation in leisure activities

There is a positive correlation between the level of economic development and participation in sports. In advanced countries or HICs, the level of participation in leisure and sporting activities is higher for the following reasons:

  1. The government of a developed country provides the necessary infrastructure to support leisure activities, e.g swimming pools, gyms etc.
  2. In developed countries, individuals are able to pay to use leisure facilities. They are also able to pay for the cost of the tickets to watch certain sporting games.
  3. If the country is developed, people would have the requisite education to understand very complex sports such as cricket, rugby etc, thereby increasing the chances of participation.

On the other hand, in LICs the cost of participating in sporting and leisure activities discourages people for the following reasons:

  1. When a country is less developed people would be unable to participate in many sports and travel for leisure.
  2. The less developed countries would be unable to buy sufficient equipment.

However, in some developing countries, people are beginning to actively participate in leisure activities due to a rise in the level of obesity and other health-related problems. As a result, a number of keep fit clubs are beginning to spring up in many developing countries. This, notwithstanding, is still limited due to the lack of funding to invest in the infrastructure.

In some developing countries, leisure activities are limited to funerals, weddings, naming ceremonies, religious and cultural festivals, story-telling etc. In some cases, men undertake more leisure activities than women, especially in the urban areas where men watch soccer either at home or go to the stadium to watch it during the weekends. Men also attend parties and go to nightclubs. Women also undertake leisure activities by spending time watching TV (telenovelas, soap operas)

In recent times, people in advanced countries have a higher life expectancy, hence they spend a significant part of their time on leisure activities such as watching TV, going to the beach, shopping and possibly spending time with their grandchildren. In some cases, many of them also travel during the summer vacation to exotic places, especially the affluent people.

Case studies:

Detailed examples to illustrate recent changes in participation for two or more societies at contrasting stages of development

Factors affecting personal participation in sports and tourists: The stages in life cycle determine the amount of time available, the number of resources available and the amount of energy a person has to participate in sports and tourism.


In advanced countries where the level of affluence is high, people participate in tourism and sports because: People can afford the subscription fees of sporting clubs and may afford the equipment needed to participate in such sports. The government is also able to provide the infrastructure needed for people to participate in sporting events etc gyms as well as provide opportunities for people to participate by organizing competitions.

Affluent people can engage in tourism in developing countries more than developed countries because:

They can afford to travel to tourist destinations and may engage in cheaper sporting activities like football or more expensive ones like golf. If the financial reward is, great, people in developing countries would be encouraged to participate.

In Islamic countries, women participate less in sports that expose a significant percentage of their bodies. E.g.: swimming, running, skating. This is due to the strict Islamic laws in these countries. For instance, in 2016 during the Olympics, a Jordanian- Canadian woman wanted to swim on behalf of Jordan and the Jordanians refused. Yet in almost all countries, men are permitted to participate in any sporting events without restrictions. E.g.: soccer, basketball, golf, etc. With tourism, women in some Islamic countries are not allowed to travel without a male escort and this affects their ability to participate in tourism. Yet in western countries, there are no gender restrictions on tourism.

Stage of life cycle (the age of a person): This can determine their level of participation in tourism and sports. Young people between the ages of 5-35 are able to play sports a lot. On the other hand, older people participate in expensive sporting events such as golf, cricket, fishing. In the case of tourism, the older people participate a lot more in tourism activities because they have much time to travel during their abundant leisure time and can afford the cost too. It also includes whether you are single or married because single people are less likely to travel because there is no pressure from other family members to travel.

Place of residence (urban or rural area, developed or developing country, mountainous or valley etc.) because:

  1. When you live on a mountain top you are likely to engage in sports that involve heights like hiking and skiing. In addition, you are most likely to become a long-distance runner
  2. When you live by the sea, you are most likely to engage in sailing, fishing etc.
  3. When you live on a flat land, you are most likely to play soccer, rugby.
  4. If you live in a forest you are most likely to engage in golf etc.
  5. If you live in an urban area it would determine the kinds of sports you play. Sports like table tennis, polo.
  6. People who live in the rural areas would want to tour the urban areas and people who live in the urban areas would like to tour the rural areas.
  • It also includes your personality because your personality determines whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. An introvert would prefer a quiet places (such as the forest, zoo) to embark on tourism. Introverts would prefer quiet sports like golf, chess, running. An extrovert would prefer a loud sport that gets their adrenaline pumping such as rugby, Formula 1 etc. They would also like to go to the beach and enjoy concerts and city life.
  • It also includes your employment because some employments offer people the opportunity to practice tourism. Generally, people who are employed are more likely to have the financial stability to engage in tourism, since it involves huge financial investments. On the other hand, people who are unemployed are less likely to be involved in tourism since they don’t have the money to do so. Yet those who are unemployed have more time to participate in sports since they have more time to do so.

One reply on “Changing leisure patterns”

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