Formed in 1952, the World Leisure Organization is a non-profit, non-governmental body of individuals and organizations from throughout the world. The World Leisure Organization’s most prized partnership is its recognition as a consultive organization with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. This recognition provides WLO with a platform to support the work of the United Nations by reflecting its goals in the organization’s programs and services. The World Leisure Organization is committed to the belief that well selected leisure experiences improve quality of life for all – from childhood to later life. We draw our members from all parts of the world and from diverse areas of interest including travel and tourism, parks and recreation services, the arts and culture, sport, health and fitness, theme and entertainment centers and educational institutions.

The World Leisure Organization promotes leisure as integral to social, cultural, economic and sustainable environmental development. We are committed to enlarging choice, affirming and enriching cultural identities, activating the human spirit and promoting sustainable and well distributed economic growth through leisure.

As a world-wide advocacy and knowledge-driven membership-focused organization, World Leisure is dedicated to understanding leisure, advancing quality of life and well-being of individuals, communities and nations through leisure; promoting and understanding of the benefits of leisure; and encouraging access and inclusion for all.

Leisure, when properly conceived, is a central force in enhancing the human condition…

Leisure should be universal and a vital component to experiencing life at its fullest. In many societies throughout the world this is a reality: form many others leisure or greater leisure is merely an aspiration.

What is clear is that leisure can support the creation of global civil society as it is integral to the social, cultural, economic, and sustainable environmental development and the well- being of individuals, communities and nations.

It is through leisure that exploration, growth, renewal, reflection and self- actualization are possible. Leisure, supported by skilled leadership, enables the creation of quality of life experiences offered in sustainable environmental settings. Leisure encourages world peace by promoting cross cultural communication and common values, equality and social justice across diverse populations.

Leisure contributes to the improvement of the human condition, promotes opportunities for inter-generational perspectives by supporting inclusive, accessible, pro-social and healthy, holistic human experiences.

Constitution and By - Laws of the WLO
The World Leisure Organization believes that leisure is …

…a unique human activity born from enlightened personal freedom depending upon goodwill among all people. Leisure is characterized by the quest for satisfaction, pleasure, discovery and socialization. As a pro-social public policy, leisure is a means of achieving a happy and good life and is consistent with the aims of environmental sustainability.

Leisure plays an essential role in individual, community and national development, contributing to the quality of life and well-being, the enhancement of social relationships and social capital and as a place of expression and engagement in democratic life. Leisure is an important place for social and voluntary involvement as well as the expression of solidarity and a sense of belonging.

Viewing leisure in its broadest context, includes:

  • play
  • recreation
  • the arts and culture
  • sport
  • festivals and celebrations
  • health and fitness
  • travel and tourism
  • education


World Leisure Organization is a member driven organization with a worldwide representation. The governing body is comprised of up to 20 persons, the Board of Directors, that are elected or appointed in accordance with procedures outlined in the Bylaws. They provide leadership in advancing leisure as a central force in enhancing the human condition through advocacy, research, and education that promotes socio-cultural development, encourages sustainable economic growth, and improves the quality of life for every person world-wide. Additionally, the Executive Committee, works as the steering committee of WLO, and is composed of the officers of WLO (Board Chair, Board Vice-Chair and the Treasurer), the Chief Operating Officer and up to 5 members of the Board and are elected by the Board. The Board of Directors shall contribute to the organization´s general strategic plan development, through the different annually stablished ad-hoc committees that work as one of the main task force of the organization.

Furthermore, the WLO counts with a distinguished group of individuals including academics and practitioners, the WLO Academy. Passionate to promote and contribute to the advance of social justice and sustainable civil society by actualizing the values inherent in leisure. Moreover, and with special interest in the future scholars and practitioner´s generations, WLO enhances and promotes Youth Ambassadors projects and activities through its different programmes.

In addition, WLO collaborates and works together with different strategic partnership, NGO’s, public and private sector organizations, towards common objectives, leisure advocacy and social, cultural and economic development. The WLO Chapters Programme offers an affiliation opportunity for individuals at the community/city, state/provincial, regional or national level and to link their efforts with the broader vision, priorities and themes of the organization. On the other hand, the World Leisure Affiliate Programme seeks affiliate collaborative relationships with other organizations throughth the world. An affiliate can be thought of as a preexisting educational institution, government, or non-government organization wishing to associate with the World Leisure Organization. Some of our current Strategic Partnerships are: The United Nations; The World Tourism Organization; The American Academy for Leisure; the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE); Australian and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies (ANZALS); and Organisation Internationale du Tourisme Social (OITS – ISTO), etc.

At last but not least, WLO Scientific and Technical Secretariat located in Bilbao, Spain and led by the Chief Operating Officer, manages the overall affairs of WLO, coordinating the general scientific strategy and implementing the different WLO programmes and activities. It functions as an agency for implementing and monitoring board approved policy and initiatives.

The World Leisure Organization has a decentralized governance model, with the scientific and technical secretariat working as an engine from Bilbao, Spain and academic and professionals task forces spread all over the world. To be mentioned the leadership of the WLO Chair in Canada, the Vice Chair in Hong Kong and the Treasurer in the Netherlands. Also, in permanent international communication and collaboration with stable local teams that work towards the organization of the WLO biggest events (congresses, expos, games and festivals). Some of them are: University of Otago representatives in Dunedin (New Zealand), for the 17th World Leisure Congress; Breda University of Applied Sciences representatives in Breda (The Netherlands) representatives for the 18th World Leisure Congress; and Hangzhou local municipality for the World Leisure Expo. Not to be forget, and one of the highlights, the WL Journal and its Editor in Chief, raising the voice of academics all the way from Hong Kong. With representatives all over the world, the World Leisure Organization stands for a global, multicultural and very diverse community representation.


WLO achieves its mission, vision and goals through its programs and activities that are developed according to four main strands: advocacy, research, education and knowledge transfer.

Advocating for leisure

To advocate for leisure by creating and dissemination policy statements, model legislative acts and information regarding leisure benefits.

Enhancing research

To explore through research and scholarly activities the relationship of leisure to the concept of identity, the process of transformation, and the ways in which leisure contributes to enhancing the human condition.

Expanding educational opportunities

To provide educational opportunities and other learning venues focusing on ways in which leisure contributes to identity formulation, transformation and improving human condition.

Fostering knowledge transfer

To disseminate and canalize the research outcomes through the different educational events and publications. To provide exchanging and sharing opportunities for academics, professionals and citizens.

The following documents present WLO previous and current strategic plan, priorities and activity.

2021- 2025 WLO Strategic Plan. December 2020, the Board of Directors approved by online vote the 2021-2025 WLO Strategic Plan. Read here.

2015 – 2020 WLO Strategic Plan – December 2015, the Board of Directors adopted the 2015 – 2020 in by voice vote in Atlanta, USA. Read here.

2009 – 2014: Leisure: Enhancing the Human Condition. Priorities & Strategies