The 4th World Leisure Expo took place in Hangzhou, China, from the 18th to the 19th October 2019. the WL Expo is a major exhibition showcases the most innovative businesses in the leisure sector. Parallel to the WL Expo, the World Leisure Forum, on the 18th-19th October, gather Chinese and international experts, who presented varied leisure research works under the main theme of “Leisure city, better life”.
From the 18th to the 20th October 2019, in Hangzhou, The 4th WL Expo and Forum were celebrated in Hangzhou from the 18th to the 20th October 2019. Mr. Zhou Jiangyong, Member of the Standing Committee of the Provincial Party Committee and Secretary of the Municipal Party Committee, opened the Expo and delivered a welcome speech to the international audience gathered at Hangzhou International Expo Center.
In his opening speech of the WL Forum, Mr. Hu Wei, Vice Mayor of Hangzhou Municipal Government, highlighted the contribution of culture, and literature and poetry more specifically, to build the imageries around West Lake in Hangzhou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mr. Hu Wei also remarked the importance of international cooperation for a city like Hangzhou, which intends to become a meeting point for all people to gather around leisure and tourism. Guest Ivana Vala Magatova, Consul General of Slovakia, presented her country as a remarkable destination for nature and experience sports, with numerous heritage sites. Slovakia and China cooperate in different fields like tourism, economy, education.
Dr. Roger Coles, WLO chairman, shared some interesting data about “Tourism: the growth in Asia”, the region currently experiencing the fastest growth in tourism, together with the Middle East. Different studies have proven already that terrorism will not prevent travelers to get to the places they would like to know. New forms of tourism are emerging, like voluntourism, one of the most booming segments of the travel industry, from restoring coral reef to protecting endangered animals. With some of these phenomena strongly expressing in China, the WLO will look to this country to learn from its experience in developing and implement a national strategy for the enhancement of the human condition through leisure.
Prof. Song Rui, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, delivered a presentation on “Leisure: measurement and Realization of Better Life”, and claimed for long-term strategies in the field of leisure at national level, but also for stronger efforts for the measurement of leisure activities’ impact in terms of better life. Prof. Pang Xuequan, Dean of the Academy of Tourism and Leisure at ZJU, on his turn, focused on the integration of culture and tourism, and agreed on the importance of policymaking in the sector, while the industry also plays a major role in this integration. The West Lake in Hangzhou was again mentioned as a symbolic case of how culture can power the development of tourist destinations.
Dr. Marcel Bastiaansen, from the Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUAS) and Tilburg University, delivered a speech on “Novel approaches to understanding and measuring leisure experiences”. Dr. Bastiaansen reflected on what makes experiences meaningful and memorable, and presented the work done at the BUAS’ Experience lab to measure emotional engagement resulting from leisure and tourism experiences.
Mr. Gao Shunli, Special Invited Researcher of the Tourism Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Science, argued in his presentation that a “new stage in national leisure development” in China would benefit from several factors: a higher degree of “leisure awareness”, more emotionally significant leisure experiences, the promotion of healthier lifestyles and favorable settings at home, and finally the transformation of the tourism industry, among others.
WLO Board member Dr. Stephen Anderson, from East Carolina University, shared a research on “Learning to Sail… on Land: Virtual Reality Sailing Simulation for People with Physical Disabilities”, conducted together with Dr. Cari Autry. The preliminary findings of the research show that learning to sail on land contributed to their quality of life. A second phase of the project will allow participants to apply the acquired cognitive and physical skills to sailing on water.
Mr. Ma Zhongqiang, also a WLO Board member, delivered a presentation on the experience of Laixi, Qingdao, in organizing the WL Games in two occasions, and how they boosted the city’s development around leisure.
As a closure of the first day of the WL Forum, the 2019 China Urban Recreationalization Index was presented. The day after, the WL Forum was organized in four parallel sub-forums, on Leisure and Rural Urbanization, Leisure and Sports, Leisure and Cultural Travel Integration, and Leisure and Industrial Transformation. Representatives of the winning and highly commended projects of the WL International Innovation Prize also had the change to present in the WL Forum.