In the COVID-19 pandemic, leisure has become an important focus point for many people. Firstly, because of health reasons – we should all keep healthy –, and, secondly because leisure has been reinventing itself in many creative ways (e.g. Marques & Giolo, 2020). Leisure habits and practices, such as travelling for tourism purposes, have been greatly affected by the pandemic. Similarly, the cultural and creative sectors are suffering from the effects of the pandemic (Comunian & England, 2020).

In these challenging times, understanding how the leisure and creative sectors can work more closely together might provide opportunities to optimise the synergies between them (cf. Richards & Marques, 2018). The project on “Value creation in creative urban spaces: fostering synergies between creative entrepreneurship and tourism”, led by WLO Board member and chair of the WLO Special Interest Group (SIG) on Leisure and Innovation, Dr. Lénia Marques from the Erasmus University Rotterdam, seeks to distil some potential synergies between creative entrepreneurs and tourism.

This ongoing project is focused in Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, although the findings can be applied to other contexts, always taking into account local characteristics. In June 2020, there was a lively discussion on these topics in a webinar organised with ATLAS (Association for Tourism and Leisure Education), which is available here.

In these challenging times, innovative ways of looking at the world bring ever more value to all stakeholders involved (cf. Marques & Pimentel Biscaia, 2020; and the special issue of the World Leisure Journal on Leisure and Innovation). People are looking for new things to do in their leisure time in a safe and sustainable manner. Preliminary findings of the project suggest that some innovative initiatives exist which can help develop these synergies (e.g. Reinvent tourism). However, there is more untapped potential that can generate more engaged, creative and sustainable forms of tourism, not just abroad but also just around the corner from each one of us!

Would you like to discuss this research? Or have other examples you would like to share? Please contact Dr. Lénia Marques at

If you would like to join our SIG on Leisure and Innovation, please contact WLO’s Secretariat at


Comunian, R., & England, L. (2020). Creative and cultural work without filters: Covid-19 and exposed precarity in the creative economy. Cultural Trends, 1-17.

Marques & Giolo, (2020, forthcoming). Cultural Leisure in Times of COVID-19: Impressions from the Netherlands. World Leisure Journal.

Richards, G. & Marques, L. (2018). Creating Synergies between Cultural Policy and Tourism for permanent and temporary Citizens. (External report). Barcelona: UCLG – United Cities and Local Governments.

Marques, L. & Pimentel Biscaia, M.S. (2019). Leisure and innovation: exploring boundaries. World Leisure Journal 61 (3), pp. 162-169, doi:10.1080/16078055.2019.1639257.