The Slow Road Back

Last year at this time, we were taking a hopeful look forward, and imagining a return to business as usual within weeks, or maybe months. And then there was a Delta wave and an Omicron wave, and we pushed the gateway to "normal" back a little bit. This year, it seems like we're in a similar place: still waiting for normal to return.

The good news is here in these pages. While the pandemic had an obvious and dramatic negative impact on facilities of all kinds, from drastically reduced revenues to programs that had to be moved outdoors, online or cut entirely, things truly are beginning to get back to business as usual.

Allow me to introduce you to our 16th annual State of the Industry Report. Based on an in-depth, 50-question survey of hundreds of professionals working at parks, recreation, sports, fitness and aquatic facilities, this report has been gauging industry trends, covering topics from construction plans and budgets to programming and operating costs for more than a decade and a half now.

As you flip through these pages, you'll see the obvious impact of the pandemic—on everything from usage statistics to budgets, revenues and more—as well as its fallout, which has affected staffing, costs and more. But you'll also see something positive. As they consider their plans and expectations for 2022 and 2023, most respondents to the survey are positive about where they see their facilities going. More members. More amenities. More programming. More staff to bring more services to the public they reach.

I'd like to send out my personal "Thank You" to everyone who took the time to sit down with the survey and answer the questions. Without your crucial input, we would never be able to bring you this broad look at what's going on in the industry. We hope everyone will keep an eager eye out for next year's survey and keep the information flowing, so we can continue to provide you and your peers with these benchmarks to help you better understand the industry and your place in it.

Now, go ahead and flip the page to find out more about where things have been these past couple of years, and where you can expect them to go next.

Be well,

Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management

[email protected]