The Leisure Economy

While we're working our butts off and accumulating more stress than raindrops in a puddle, we seem to be indulging in prolific playtime as well. Work hard and play hard is the mantra that the world loves to live by. The annual market for tourist receipts for destinations in the world exceeded $900 billion in 2010. tourism across the world
This year, it could become a trillion dollar market. That means there are more people spending more time at various spots around the world doing some pretty unusual things. So, if your idea of a holiday is to go swimming, trekking, watch a few castles or museums or simply catch up on tons of books you always wanted to read but couldn't, welcome to the new world.

The simple act of sightseeing has been transformed into sharply defined activities like sustainable tourism, eco-tourism, pro-poor tourism (as if to imply that most tourism isn't), recession tourism, medical tourism, educational tourism, dark tourism (sites of genocide, prisons and other unsavoury history) and doom tourism – where the marvel is likely to be lost if you don't see it in the next few years. (Alaska before the polar bears disappear or whales in their original habitat). You travel for a cause and not just because you have the time and the inclination.

As if all of these were not enough, Richard Branson is getting space tourism off to a highly publicised start. At $2 million dollars and a lot of training before you can take off, it's not exactly the kind of holiday a lot of us would look forward to. Being shot into space in cramped quarters and experiencing the nauseous pleasures of weightlessness and muscle atrophy, not to mention having to eat pelleted food and going through elaborate routines for your daily ablutions is not anyone's idea of fun. And the people who line up to pay for the privilege of boasting that they are the chosen few are welcome to their illusions. I'd prefer to see space in 3D from the air-conditioned confines of a planetarium and get back to the real world by just stepping outside. Thank you very much

Sports tourism is also getting to be a highly trafficked sector. The football cups have acquired notoriety on account of the drunken fans that trashed the countries they travelled to when their teams lost. But there are the tennis and the cricket faithful who go wherever their teams go.

So what does all this go to show? That we have more leisure in our lives than at any time in history. And we're capitalising on the opportunity with a vengeance, recession or no recession – going by the fact that tourism worldwide is growing at 7%. On a base of even $900 billion, that's an additional $63 billion being added to the growing pie. Take a look at this interesting graph of air traffic across the world over a 24 hour time span. The world is connected like never before. And the leisure economy is exploding in size and scope

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Tags: dark | doom | marketing | medical tourism | space tourism | tourism

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