If there is a sector affected by the spreading novel coronavirus, this is without doubt the Leisure sector. Theater, museums, leisure centers have closed to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff. Major events, from the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo to the Cannes Film Festival are delayed, postponed or cancelled. The halt of movement of people across borders has seized any travel-related activity impacting a lot the leisure travel sector.
The leisure industry itself is looking for alternatives to this challenge. Many institutions have moved onto technology platforms, several conferences and meetings have also taken the digital route. Creativity prevails: live-streaming of concerts to audiences around the world, virtual tours or famous museums and galleries, on-line festivals allow people to experience art from the comfort of their living rooms. Sports and physical activity have also taken another twist: people look for alternatives to train at home, via e-classes, or recorded material. Also neighborhoods have never seen so many people jogging. Travel sections of newspapers wonder how to talk about travel when it’s grinding to a halt and turn to their audiences and create reader-generated columns where their readers can propose to fellow travel readers what they can do over a weekend wherever they are. Because one day we will travel again.
The world needs the leisure sector. The United Nations, in its ”Global Call to Creatives: An Open Brief from the United Nations”, issued its first-ever global call to creatives to help spread the public health messages on the coronavirus using a cultural quirk in ways which make the messages effective, accessible and shareable. But in the same time, in these turbulent times, many leisure organisations and professionals rely on government for support. Sector stakeholders in different parts of the world are mobilizing and already discussing with government officials the aftermath of the crisis. Support to freelancers, artists, cultural professionals has been announced in different countries.
From the WLO Secretariat we would like to call on you to help us map different policies that have been announced or already put in place in support to the leisure sector in your own countries.