Future of Leisure in Big Cities

Inhabitants have conquered the city by using their home to accommodate tourists. Airbnb has transformed cities into a Theme Park destination. The ‘Short stay’ has become one of the biggest competitor of the traditional holiday. The hotel market is growing rapidly, and Holiday Resorts have discovered the suburbs as their newest base. Fun Shopping is becoming the second fast growing activity. Cities are becoming to look more like the Efteling or EuropaPark.

Hot Spot

Big Cities are becoming more interesting for investors in leisure to develop new attractions at high traffic locations. The Birmingham NEC Convention Center has planned a new Bear Grylls Indoor attraction, developed by Merlin Entertainment (watch video). It opens at the end of this summer! Last year, the same company launched the history of ‘Big Berlin’, a miniature attraction. Another well-known company, Parques Reunidos, is developing a brand-new Lionsgate Entertainment City in Madrid, with plans to open in 2020. The storyline of this new FEC is based on films and TV IPs like The Hunger Games, The Divergent Series and Mad Men. Both new developments are introducing challenging courses and climbing walls, state-of-the-art motion simulators, 3- 4D theatre and location-based VR experiences. Jaarbeurs Convention Center – Utrecht has contracted the Jurassic World live show that travels around the world.

Fun Shopping

Outlet Shopping Malls must attract Fun Shoppers more and more and therefore they make plans to introduce additional leisure activities. We see these developments in Dubai – Abu Dhabi, but also in Gent Belgium or at the Designer Outlet Roermond. Store owners are in competition with the internet and the Outlet Malls. And new competitors of the Outlet Shopping Malls are the Big Cities. This because mostly Big Cities offer a variety of themed restaurants, museums and sometimes even a Zoo. Designer Outlet Roermond has about 8 million Fun Shoppers each year. They are now planning to increase their visitors number to 12 million a year. The manager told me therefore they need the collaboration of the tourist region.

Family Entertainment Centers

A very good example of this kind of a development is the Leisure Dome in the south of the Netherlands. This is not a prestige object but will be an inspiration for what is coming next. Indoor Playgrounds like Ballorig and Monkey Town have had their best time. Clustering with more than one leisure activity should be the latest trend. A location that understands this is the ‘Best F.E.C. Award Winner 2017’ The Maxx – Veenendaal. This location runs a F.E.C. with a trampoline zone, e-carts, Escape Rooms, Laser Arena and themed restaurants. The investment was about 2.5 million euro’s. The Maxx has plans to double the surface so they can introduce new attractions.


Garden Centers worldwide are developing their concepts by adding more attractions and thrills. They are becoming more than only Fun Shopping Centers. The latest change, exploring Garden Centers like a F.E.C. has already taken place in Canada. Garden Center Intratuin Duiven – The Netherlands, has opened a 5000m2 building with an Indoor Playground facility and restaurant. We already know the concept of IKEA and more will follow to add retailtainment to their core business. Traditional markets like campsites, family hotels, holiday resorts, indoor playgrounds, restaurants and attractions have to think about future leisure to survive, meaning to transform into a Hot Spot.

Hans van Leeuwen, Trendwatcher & International leisure Consultant

On their way to 12 million visitors a year – Outlet Center Roermond

More fun with life entertainment during Fun shopping

Garden Center Intratuin Duiven in The Netherlands opened a 5000m2 Indoor Playground Facility

CategoryBlog - English
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