Rationale for the Leisure Management Special Interest Group (LM SIG)

The rationale for the LM SIG will be more meaningful if an explanation of leisure management is provided. Leisure management is the means by which organisations manipulate their resources to deliver leisure programs, facilities and services to stakeholders and the general community (Veal, 2003). The programs, facilities and services fall within the range of leisure, recreation, sport, tourism and events industry (Tower & Zimmermann, 2016) within the mixed economy of leisure provided by government, non-profit, commercial organisations and households (Veal, Darcy & Lynch, 2013). A particular characteristic of the mixed economy of leisure is the capacity for government, non-profit and commercial organisations to collaborate in program, facility and service delivery.

Leisure management has evolved over the decades to steadily increase the range of management responsibilities and tasks required to deliver leisure programs, facilities and services. Leisure management books have covered the fundamental management responsibilities such as planning, delivery, management and control of services (Torkildsen, 1983). More recent publications include the fundamentals but also address quality and performance management, (Taylor, 2011), community planning, accountability, partnerships, inclusion of diversity in the community and workplace (Edginton, Hudson, Lankford & Larsen, 2015), competency-based management, personnel practices, project management and allocation of resources (Hurd, Barcelona & Zimmermann, 2022). Leisure management was recently explained as a focus on the ‘what’ and the ‘who’. The ‘what’ relates to the leisure organisation’s understanding of the key leisure concepts, how organisations function and manipulate their resources to deliver programs, facilities and services. The ‘who’ is about the understanding of leisure service consumers and key stakeholders (Zimmermann & Tower, 2017).

Leisure management is more than working to achieve effective and efficient programs, facilities and services. Often leisure projects are designed to address issues of inequality, access and to help make the world a better place based on leisure’s contribution to a community’s quality of life. It is this focus on leisure impacts that provides a context for the LM SIG. There is a need to clearly articulate and document the ‘why’ of leisure services.

A Victorian government report identified the need for leisure centres and many other community services to justify their ongoing investment and to better document the outcomes they have achieved. Monitoring and measuring leisure services facilities and programs often focuses on outputs such as participant numbers, member retention, skill development, etc. (Victorian Auditor General Office, 2016). However, there is limited reporting of the outcomes achieved by leisure programs, facilities and services to determine the wellbeing, social and health outcomes that leisure services often have as part of their plans. (Marriott, Tower & McDonald, 2021).

The rationale for the LM SIG is the need to better coordinate and collaborate regarding measurement of the outcomes that leisure management initiatives are achieving. In a general sense it would be useful to document the achievements that are contributing to local communities’ quality of life. At a more specific level, there is value to focus on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to document how leisure programs, facilities and services are working to achieve the SDGs.

The LM SIG will complement the WLO vision by documenting how leisure programs, facilities and services are enhancing the human condition and contributing to communities’ quality of life. Furthermore, the LM SIG will complement WLO’s focus on the UN SDGs by documenting successful leisure achievements and sharing the success stories via WLO and the wider leisure communities’ information sharing systems.

Recent Activities

  • Gave ten LM presentations at the 2019 ANZALS Conference
  • Established an LM theme session as part of the 2019 ANZALS Conference
  • Had leisure management presentations at the 2021 World Leisure Congress
  • Produced regular LM SIG eNews to share with our members (see links to past eNews issues below)
  • Initiated the LM SIG Webinar program in late 2021 and four events are scheduled for 2022 (see below).

Planned Activities

The LM SIG intends to continue with a range of activities in 2022:

  1. We will continue the preparation and distribution of the LM SIG eNews four times during 2022.
  2. We will also continue to offer four webinars in 2022 as part of the LM SIG Webinar series.
  3. We plan to participate in the 2023WL Congress. A session is planned to address issues about how leisure management can address diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) issues.
  4. We are also exploring options to begin the preparation of a leisure management bibliography. We hope to be able to do this via a collaboration with one of the WLCEs or another institution with an interest in leisure management scholarship.
  5. The LM SIG Co-Chairs edited a Leisure Management special edition of the World Leisure Journal in 2017. We are exploring opportunities to update some of the issues raised in that special edition with the intent to produce another special edition in 2023.


Dr John Tower and Dr Jo An Zimmermann


  • Maintain the LM SIG to share information about leisure management research, practices and publications.
  • Establish a database of leisure management researchers and their areas of expertise.
  • Document research about how leisure programs, facilities and services are contributing to communities’ quality of life.
  • Document research about how leisure programs, facilities and services are achieving the UN”s SDGs.


Edginton, C. R., Hudson, S., Lankford, S. & Larsen, D. (2015). Managing Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services: An Introduction – 4th Ed. Urbana, IL: Sagamore.

Hurd, A.R., Barcelona, R.J. & Zimmermann, J.M. (2022). Leisure Services Management, 3rd Ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Marriott, K., Tower, J. & McDonald, K. (2021) Community Leisure and Recreation Planning, London: Routledge.

Taylor, P. (Ed.) (2011). Torkildsen’s Sport and Leisure Management – 6th Ed. Milton Park: Routledge.

Torkildsen, G. (1983). Leisure and Recreation Management. London: E & F. N. Spon.

Tower, J. & Zimmermann, J.M. (2016). Setting the scene for the WLJ special edition on leisure management. World Leisure Journal. 58(1), 3-11.

Veal, A. J. (2003). Leisure Management in J.M. Jenkins and J. J. Pigram (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Leisure and Outdoor Recreation. London: Routledge.

Veal, A.J., Darcy, S. & Lynch, R. (2013). Australian Leisure – 4th Ed. Frenchs Forest, NSW Australia: Pearson.

Victorian Auditor General Office. (2016). Local Government Service Delivery: Recreational Facilities. Melbourne: Victorian Government.

Zimmermann, J. M. & Tower, J. (2017). Leisure management: All about the “what” and the “who”. World Leisure Journal, 59 (1), 2-5.

Leisure Management Webinar Series

Managing Safe Places – A Conversation with Dr. Corey Johnson

Access the extra resource below:

Resource 1
Resource 2
Resource 3
Resource 4

Designing Experiences – A Conversation with JR (Bob) Rossman

Crisis Preparedness – A Conversation with Patrick Hammer, Erie Colorado’s Director of Parks and Recreation

Public Leisure Management for Social Transformation – A WL Day webinar

 Serious Leisure in Practice (recordings are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese)

EN World Leisure Day – Serious leisure in practice

SP World Leisure Day – Ocio serio en la práctica

BR World Leisure Day – Lazer sério na Prática