Academic journal article Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management

Patterns and Determinants of Recreational Behaviour in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria

Academic journal article Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management

Patterns and Determinants of Recreational Behaviour in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Recreation has been defined as "any pursuit engaged upon during leisure time other than pursuits to which people are normally highly committed" (See Table 1) (Roberts, 1974). Leisure time is "the time available to the individual when the disciplines of work, sleep and other basic needs have been met" (Roberts, 1974).

Recreation may be active or passive, indoor or outdoor (Lawson and Baud-Bovy, 1977); activities include: (i) those taking place indoors and around the house, e.g. listening to music, reading, gardening and watching television; (ii) activities with a high social content, e.g. entertaining people, eating out and visiting bars; (iii) cultural and artistic pursuits, e.g. visiting arts galleries, exhibitions, museums, theatres; anything that will increase or improve cultural awareness; (iv) active pursuit of sports, jogging, playing, tennis, badminton; and informal outdoor activities, e.g. picnicking, sight-seeing, driving for pleasure, etc. (Lawson and Baud-Bovy, 1977).

Attention began to be seriously paid to recreation by environmental planners as from the mid 1950s onwards (Bucher and Bucher, 1974). Recreation planning has since been established as one of the functional specialisations of environmental planning and management.

2. Salient Issues in Recreation Research

The key issues in recreation research centre on demand and supply. Both public and private agencies provide and manage recreational facilities. Whatever is their motive--profit making or otherwise--they must concern themselves with demand for their services. Demand in the recreational sense refers to "the number of persons (or units of participation) requiring to take part in a particular recreational activity and hence is manifested as a demand for facilities" (Roberts, 1974).

There are several components of "existing demand" either for recreation as a whole or for a particular activity (Roberts, 1974). These consist of: (a) "effective demand", which is present participation; (b) "latent demand", which comprises "deferred demand" (those who would like to participate and have the means and time to do so but are unable to because of the lack of recreation facilities or ignorance of the existence of such facilities), and (c) "potential demand" (those without the means or time to participate, but who could be converted to effective demand at a later date if their socio-economic circumstances changed); and, finally, (d) "no demand"--the old, the sick, the uninterested and so on.

For planning purposes, the level of potential effective demand is important. On the supply side, emphasis (especially on the side of public policy-making) has hitherto been on present and future resources to meet demand.

3. Focus of this Research

Recreation challenges in the rural and urban areas of Nigeria essentially relate to (a) availability of leisure time; (b) attitude to recreation; (c) demand for recreational facilities; and (d) supply and management of recreational facilities.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Nigerians have generally a negative attitude to recreation, possibly because most of them are ignorant of its health, social and economic benefits, some of which are reiterated below.

Health benefits of recreation, for instance, include reduction of obesity; reduction of the risk of chronic disease; boosting of the immune system; and increase in life expectancy (California State Parks, 2005). Physical activity is related to significant reductions in depression (a mental illness) (Landers, 1997). Social benefits include reduction of crime and promotion of stewardship (Borrie and Roggenbuck, 2001); promotion of social bonds (California State Parks, 2005); support of seniors (Chodzko-Zajko, 1998); support and development of youth (California State Parks, 2005); enhancement of education (Mann and Hensley, 2005); deterring negative behaviour (California State Parks, 2005); and crime prevention (California State Parks, 2005). …

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