Outdoor Recreation Economy Continues to Grow

(from media release)

Final Bureau of Economic Analysis Report Confirms Outdoor Recreation Is an Economic Force; Accounts for Over 2 Percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product

Outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), according to the final report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) on the outputs from outdoor recreation. The final report also found that outdoor recreation contributes over $734 billion to total U.S. gross output, which is the total value of domestic goods and service produced by an industry.

Lee Creek at Devil's Den State Park (Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism)

Lee Creek at Devil’s Den State Park (Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism)

“BEA’s final numbers confirm what the outdoor industry has always known: that outdoor recreation truly is an economic force, accounting for over 2 percent of the entire nation’s GDP and growing faster than the economy as a whole,” said Amy Roberts, executive director at Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). “OIA’s analysis shows that Americans spend $887 billion annually recreating outside. All of this data underscores that outdoor recreation is a significant and growing contributor to the U.S. economy – we strongly encourage members of Congress to invest in public lands as these numbers demonstrate the return on investment.”

“The government’s data confirms what many of us in the industry have known for quite some time. Millions of Americans love to get outside and enjoy time with friends and family, adventuring right out their back doors or off into our iconic wild places,” said Jerry Stritzke, president and CEO of REI Co-op. “This is something that unites us as a nation. Whether they live in a city, suburb or small rural town, Americans cherish their outdoor experiences. It’s also very good for the economy. We appreciate the work of the Commerce Department and, in particular, the Bureau of Economic Analysis on this analysis and are committed to helping assure the data is kept fresh into the future.”

“I authored the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC) Act because it’s important that Congress has a clear understanding of how much of a major economic driver outdoor recreation is for communities across the country,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado). “This report provides important data for Congress and will be extremely useful as I work to gain support for initiatives that highlight the importance of our beautiful outdoors.”

“This report shows that outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse – and underscores the need to continue investing in measures that preserve our environment and access to public lands,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire). “New Hampshire draws visitors from all over the world, which is why expanding outdoor recreation and protecting our environment is fundamental to our tourism industry. My bipartisan legislation with Senator Gardner, which was signed into law, will ensure that we continue to understand the economic impact of outdoor recreation, and I’ll continue to prioritize legislation in Congress to build on that effort.”
“Outdoor recreation continues to be an important part of the American experience, and that’s why I introduced the Outdoor REC Act in 2016. It plays a major role in the Northern Virginia economy by contributing over $1 billion annually and provides critical jobs to the region,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Virginia). “These new numbers give policymakers useful information to underpin legislation that strengthens national recreational policies, which will go a long way toward improving all Americans’ physical, environmental and economic health.”

“This report is further proof that outdoor recreation is important to our country’s economy. In my home state of Washington, we know this well since outdoor recreation is one of the largest industries in our state,” said Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Washington). “Washington state is the proud home of stunning mountains, beaches, lakes and rivers, drawing visitors from around the world for our hiking, skiing, fishing, climbing and many more outdoor opportunities these lands offer. I am proud to see this report that my colleagues and I successfully authorized in 2016 come to fruition and show what many of us already knew: how important this industry is to our country. It is why I remain committed to advocating for Washington’s public lands and the benefits they bring to my constituents and our economy.”

“Vermont is blessed with unparalleled natural beauty that affords visitors year-round opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont). “This report documents what we have always assumed: outdoor recreation creates good jobs and boosts our economy.”

This study is the result of the unanimous passage of the Outdoor REC Act of 2016. OIA and its members worked with Senators Gardner and Shaheen as well as Representatives Reichert, Beyer, McMorris Rodgers and Welch to move this bill and ensure funding to get the study launched. OIA is now looking to Congress to continue to fund this report on an annual basis and produce regional data.

For more detailed information from BEA, please visit https://www.bea.gov/data/special-topics/outdoor-recreation.

For an FAQ about the outdoor recreation economy, please visit click here.

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About Outdoor Industry Association

Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry and the title sponsor of Outdoor Retailer. OIA unites and serves 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative, and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org.

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