Chapter 1: Defining the Recreation and Leisure Industry

1.1 Defining the Recreation and Leisure Industry

The Recreation and Leisure industry is often seen as a very narrow field, but the reality is just the opposite. It is as diverse and fascinating as play itself, creating a vast landscape of job opportunities. It is complex because it consists of stakeholders from a multitude of businesses and organizations. It crosses all 3 economic sectors: Public, (government) Private (commercial/business) and Not-for-Profit (social & charitable organizations). Many other industries incorporate parts of recreation into their own industry. All of this makes it very difficult, to recognize where the jobs are.


Industries that overlap with recreation: travel and tourism, entertainment, eco-leisure, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, and clubs, sports and fitness.
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In 2015, the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA) published The Framework for Recreation in Canada 2015, Pathways to Wellbeing. It was created as a guiding document for recreation providers. Defining recreation and creating common priorities for delivering services that lead to individual, community, and environmental wellbeing. Recreation is defined as:

The experience that results from freely chosen participation in physical, social, intellectual, creative and spiritual pursuits that enhance individual and community wellbeing” – (Canadian Parks and Recreation Association, 2015).

The concept of leisure is culturally determined and therefore defined by the society it exists in. In Canada, Leisure is commonly understood as what you do with your free time. Like recreation, it is a reflection of our freedom and is why recreation and leisure is cherished in Canadian society. Leisure can be structured (photography club) or unstructured (a walk in the park), In either form, it often results in creating jobs.

The 2020 Alberta Recreation and Parks Labour Market Project defined the Recreation Industry to identify labour market needs specific to Alberta. An industry is a group of organizations classified together based on their common delivery of services or goods. In this textbook, we will expand the Alberta project definition to include leisure and adapt it to a more jobs orientated perspective. In other words, identifying where individuals with a Post Secondary education in Recreation and Leisure Services work.

Rec & Leisure Industry includes active living, community rec, sports and leisure, and outdoor rec

The Recreation and Leisure Industry

The Recreation and Leisure Industry is defined as: work that enhances wellbeing through providing and facilitating services and programs, leading personnel and operations, and allocating organization resources in the areas of:

  • Active Living (Health, Wellness and Fitness)
  • Community Recreation
  • Amateur/Recreational Sport and Leisure
  • Outdoor Recreation and Parks


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Working in Play – Exploring the Recreation and Leisure Industry Copyright © 2022 by Linda Whitehead, BA, M Ed, MBA is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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