June 13, 2019

By Arshae Ahmed


With a concentration on recreation, entertainment, sports and tourism, everything associated with leisure is now almost a part of our everyday life. It’s quite obviously evident how broad the industry truly is although its key categories have been characterized in just five types mostly. Yes, pretty much everything you do can be put into one or more of these categories – Sports and Physical Recreation, Arts and Entertainment, Countryside Recreation, Home-based Leisure, and Play- & Activity-based Leisure.



With the advancement of technology, increase in globalization, change in the economy and political policy making, this industry has never seen a dull moment and experienced constant change & growth. While the existence and changes in the industry can be dated to way back in time, let’s start at something we’re all familiar with – MP3 players and mobile phones. There was a time when MP3 players were all some people had to listen to music. Long gone are the days when our mobile phones did not have practically every entertaining element we need. Be it the music app Spotify, your go-to TV show app Netflix or your favorite game PUBG. When iPhone revolutionized mobile phones forever, resulting in an increased usage of internet, social media & games, it also helped in staying fit!

Euromonitor has reported that the sporting goods industry in China is worth about $28.4 billion, growing at a significant rate of 11%. On the other hand, South Korea’s prideful electronic gaming aka “E-Sports” has been seeing significant growth for years now. And in the age of innovation, how could we forget the mighty VR gaming? We’ve gone from playing football in the fields to playing it on our screens with the same movements! Health and sports going hand in hand; IBISWorld study reported that between 2011 and 2016, the growth in the gym and health sector in China was 11.6%, with a turnover of over $6 billion in 2016. In fact, in China alone, the fitness app “Keep” was downloaded by 40 million users by July 2016. These heavy numbers are a clear indication that Asia’s growing economy and an improved standard of living have resulted in a higher number of adults and children partaking in more sports based leisure activities. And with new and improved health apps constantly being introduced for the growing tech-savvy population, it has become a lot easier for people to have a personal trainer on their apps without the actual presence of the trainer.



Currently in the UK, the leisure market is worth a massive £117bn in revenue, as reported by Deloitte. Would you believe that in a country like the UK, this particular industry has been attracting about 1.5 times more voluntary spending than retail and is practically growing at a speed twice as much? In fact, 58% of the population, consisting of the millennials, eat out at least once a week. So, imagine the numbers!

The growth has been quite similar in Asia as well. With fast food chains expanding their businesses in Asia constantly, dining out has become a habit for the younger Asian crowd. India has a rising young population and a strong force of working women – both of whom now have the kind of disposable incomes, allowing them to add in the growth of eating out. In India, about half of its population dines out at least once in every 3 months, with the number going as high as 8 times in just a month that has helped the country’s quick service restaurants grow at a 25% rate.



The reasons for the growth in tourism vary from having places to visit to having more options for budget airlines and hotels for easier access to travel. For example, in 2017 the top 25 theme parks of the world had an increased attendance by 4.7% from 2016. Asian Museums saw an increased growth in 2017 as well. Tokyo was able to be one of the top attention grabbers with one quarter of the world’s top 20 exhibitions taking place there.

With a surging set of middle class groups and a growing generation of millennials who demand nothing but the best and customized services, Asia has been buzzing with adventurous travelers. In 2016 alone, a record amount of 24 million overseas visitors traveled to Japan, a quarter of which were from China. Some other important elements of travel are – festivals, sports events and concerts. With boundaries around the globe becoming almost invisible, the biggest bands and artists of the world are found touring in Asian countries including Bangkok, Indonesia and Malaysia – all the countries that see a major spike in tourists during those times; as people living in the neighboring Asian countries visit the concerts.



CBRE reported that an astounding 33 new multiplex movie theatres will be made in the UK alone in the next 3 years. It is also expected that AI and VR that offer the most interactive experiences will take over the movie experience in the UK by 2020.

As mentioned earlier, people in Asia have showcased health awareness which is not limited to Asian countries anymore. The UK government has revealed how lack of physical activity may cost their economy up to £20bn a year. So, this is how innovations are bound to grow continuously.



Being a fast growing industry also has quite the challenges. Leisure industry is basically an open market which allows anyone and everyone to be a part of it, creating an immense amount of competition. Life has now also become extremely Instagram certified with influencers taking over every decision that people make; which is just one of the many social trends that can drastically change ongoing actions of the industry. Economic conditions and standard of living are also extremely vital to the decisions people make for partaking in a leisure activity. Political conditions play a vital role as well, especially in terms of tourism – Brexit is undoubtedly the greatest example of that. And last but certainly not the least, an industry this big, fast and diverse can never survive without proper funding which can undoubtedly get extremely challenging to manage in its fast pace.



The country has seen a massive technological advancement. From smartphones reaching rural areas to having a VR gaming arena in one of the biggest shopping complexes in the country, the leisure industry here has most certainly been tapped. Movie theatres are now constantly upgrading their services based on the people’s demand. Eating out has almost become a ritual for everyone with a small café available in every corner. A space that seems untapped to quite an extent is its tourism. From the longest sea beach, to the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger and to the mountains surrounded by dancing clouds, there is no shortage of things to explore in the country. And with an increased standard of living and interest in tourism, the country stands with extremely high potential to attract local as well as foreign tourists. With easy access to transportation and living in certain remote yet extremely attractive areas, there is no doubt that the country’s leisure industry will flourish.

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