The virtualisation of recreational facilities has revolutionised the way people travel to and from work. With an increasingly digital economy we are all seeking ways to cut costs and find ways to entertain ourselves on a budget. It is not just travelling to work that people are doing so, rather it is so much more. No longer do we go to work and return home in the same clothes every day. Virtualisation means that we can enjoy work / play from the comfort of our own homes, and whilst at the same time be able to share that virtual home with friends and family – all in the safety and security of our own homes.
The pandemic of commuting to and from work has been reawakened by the global recession. However, the world of recreation has been reinvigorated by the latest economic pandemic, the pandemic of commuting to and from work. In March of next year, we will be looking towards a bright spring season which is rich with possibility and promise of new time spent playing recreation and country sides parks. As we look forward into the future I am sure we can all think about how wonderful it will be to be able to spend time outdoors and not have to worry about the monthly cost of petrol for our cars, or paying the extortionate petrol tax.
As we all look ahead into the future it makes sense that we need to take a broader view of the word “recreation”. The word recreation and leisure is now broadly applied to a whole host of activities which include virtual reality, augmented reality, and computer games. In some senses it is even possible to call our current recreational tools the pandemic, as we now have access to devices which can enable us to have virtually endless play. Video gaming, augmented reality television, and a wide variety of computer games offer the perfect platform for the continued reinvention of recreation.
There are a wide variety of potential uses for the pandemic, but one of the most interesting is in the sphere of tourism. Realtors and tourism agencies are already piloting new methods of entertainment and recreation in areas hit by the pandemic such as Texas and New Mexico. Here the pandemic has not only brought down hotel bookings, but there are opportunities to build up and create attraction-based businesses which are specifically focused on this type of setting.
One example is the Realtor Group who has developed a new interactive platform which allows clients to interact with Realtors in the real world. The company plans to expand this service across the country, but already in Florida they have opened up two es Logo gaming stations at the Orange County Convention Center and plan to soon open a full blown interactive sports and entertainment centre in Orlando. This marks a significant development since the recent outbreak of the pandemic in the South, but also showcases the growing potential for ESL/EFL recreation in the US.
ESL/EFL travel is now an emerging industry, with many employers looking to bring qualified workers from other countries into their organisation. This is especially important in industries such as tourism and travel, where travel and leisure travellers are vital elements to maintaining productivity and profit margins. As well as boosting employee morale and productivity in these fields, investing in additional ESL /EFL teaching support could help ensure that workers are more equipped to cope with the demands of the job on 21st Century standards.
The first case study comes from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, home of the University of Pennsylvania, whose student recruitment programme is now focusing on ESL /EFL workers. Professor Zick was responsible for creating a pilot programme, which saw students visiting five parks in the city. Although the results showed that over half of the participants visited the parks regularly, the rest were seen once a week or less. Furthermore, nearly a third of these people were not licensed to work within the city limits, indicating a need for further education and training on their part. While it is too early to draw any broad conclusions about the impact of this pilot project on Philadelphia’s recreation and culture, it does highlight the potential benefits of bringing foreign workers into areas of local concern.
Another benefit of these programmes comes from the type of data collected, allowing researchers to gauge both how well tourist and resident populations respond to live activities onsite. In both locations, the number of visits by foreign nationals was relatively high, particularly during the summer months, but fewer trips were made at other times of the year. It is possible that this may be due to concerns over health risks, especially as flu outbreaks continue elsewhere in the country. Similarly, it is unclear whether the relatively high numbers of foreign visitors might be related to the quality of the local resources, such as cleanliness and waste disposal. Whatever the reason, the data will allow recreation agencies to adjust services to meet the needs of the wider community, rather than being limited to a specific type of visitor.