Finally, this year, World Leisure Organization (WLO) has progressively and carefully resumed its face-to-face reunions so longed for the past couple of years.
Back in April 2022, on the occasion of a team from WLO’s visit to Australia for the site evaluation of one of the potential hosts for World Leisure Congress in 2026, the organization was presented at Western Sydney University. From WLO Secretariat, WLO Chief Scientific and Operating Officer (COO), Dr. Cristina Ortega, and WLO Communications and Events Coordinator, Dr. Mireia Iglesias, met WLO Board members Maria Luiza de Souza and Dr. Arianne Reis, and conducted a seminar on challenges of recreational therapy. They also presented WLO and how it could support and collaborate with the professional sector working on leisure and recreation-related fields.
WLO COO, Dr. Cristina Ortega, and Communications and Events Coordinator, Dr. Mireia Iglesias, that same month, also traveled to Madrid (Spain) to discover first-hand the facilities of the GO fit leisure and sports center. They were guided by Dr. Alfonso Jiménez, Director of Research and Innovation at GO fit LAB, who explained the general and sport management policies in the centers, and the innovative air purification system put in place at GO fit facilities, which was installed during the pandemic to ensure the highest air quality and protect users from infection. These face-to-face reunions are also an excellent opportunity to discuss potential partnerships and expand WLO network, so WLO was excited to discuss with Dr. Jiménez on the networks he is involved in, such as Europe Active or the Active Leisure Alliance.
Then in June 2022, the World Leisure Congress 2025 had its official kick off at the World Leisure Center of Excellence Breda University of Applied Sciences (WLCE BUas)! WLO Chair, Prof. Joanne Schroeder travelled all the way from Canada to The Netherlands to attend the signing ceremony together with Dr. Jorrit Snijder, President of the Executive Board of BUas. They were also accompanied by WLO Treasurer, Yvonne Klerks, WLO Board member, Prof. Dr. Marcel Bastiaansen, WLO COO, Dr. Cristina Ortega, Hildegard Assies from Breda Marketing, and Roland Kleve and Guido Aerts from BUas. From WLO we are very much looking forward to welcome guests from all over the world to meet, talk and exchange knowledge about “leisure for a better society” in August 2025!
From The Netherlands to Hungary, WLO Chair Prof. Joanne Schroeder and WLO COO Dr. Cristina Ortega visited the WLCE at University of Pécs (UP). The purpose of the visit was to discuss the possibilities of cooperation opportunities between WLO and WLCE UP. The Deans of the Faculty discussed these possibilities in teaching, education and scientific fields with WLO leaders and leaders of the WLCE Dr. Marta Wilhelm, prof. Director of WLCE UP, and Dr. Miklós Bánhidi, leader of WLO Youth Ambassadors programme.
In the same trip, Prof. Joanne Schroeder and Dr. Cristina Ortega visited Hungarian University of Sports Science (HUSS) in Budapest, accompanied by WLO Board member Dr. Miklós Bánhidi, who is a professor at the Recreation Studies Department at HUSS. WLO’s delegation met Dr. Tamás Sterbenz, Rector of HUSS, Dr. Gyöngyvér Lacza, Head of the Recreation Studies Department, and Dr. habil. Judit Kádár, Director of HUSS International Relations Center. HUSS has started the process to become a WLO institutional premium member, and the conversation explored the possibilities to develop a closer partnership, as well as to organize leisure events together. WLO delegation also had the opportunity to witness and be part of the opening of the Night of Movement, a massive recreational sport festival that mobilizes thousands of people to practice sport in the city.
September was the month of event’s industry conventions. WLO Communications and Events Coordinator, Dr. Mireia Iglesias, travelled from Vienna (Austria) to Las Vegas (United States of America) to attend some of the biggest conventions in the world: PCMA Convening EMEA and IMEX America Las Vegas. The WLO presence and representation at these events offers valuable and rewarding opportunities to learn from the best experiences and professionals, to engage and collaborate with potential partners and members of the organization, as well as to introduce our international events such as the WL Expo, WL Congress, WL Festival and WL Games, among other programs.
Furthermore, WLO Vicechair Dr. Lawal Marafa, as member of the UNWTO World Committee on Tourism Ethics, flew to the Spanish capital to assist to its periodical meeting in the beginning of December at the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid. Many topics were discussed and listed as specific issues to pay attention to in 2023 as Decent Work, Inclusive Growth & Community Empowerment, Technology & Digital Platforms, Climate Changes & Environmental Sustainability, and Social Sustainability & Intercultural Dialogues.
Finally, we could not end this piece of news without mentioning this year 2022’s most special gathering: the WLO Board of Directors meeting held in November in Brazil. After some years of online participation, this year WLO Board members met in hybrid format since some of them travelled to Brazil for this meeting and to also participate in the parallel Forum “Talking About Leisure”, co-organized by Brazilian partners SESC and WLCE University of Sao Paulo at the facilities of SESC Guadalupe in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. In Recife, the capital of Pernambuco, the participants also explored the largest open-air urban technology park in Brazil, Porto Digital.
Looking forward to next year’s new get-together experiences!