Outdoor recreation could add $1 trillion to the U.S. economy by 2022

US Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) Recently released economic data from the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account for 2022 shows the largest economic impact in its history and the powerful economic impact outdoor recreation has on the US economy. These new figures reveal that outdoor recreation accounts for $1.1 trillion in economic output (2.2% of GDP), 4.98 million jobs and 3.2% of the US workforce.

Powersports and boating are major drivers in the outdoor recreation industry. (Chart: BEA)

This is the sixth consecutive year that BEA has released national and state-level data on this important sector. This publication highlights how the outdoor industry continues to grow and thrive, supporting jobs and local economies in communities across the country, boosting the national economy, and providing countless benefits to the growing number of Americans who seek time outdoors. BEA data demonstrates how important outdoor recreation has become and that its growth will continue to grow.

„If there’s one takeaway from today’s BEA presentation, it’s this: The state of the outdoor recreation economy is strong, with sustained investment in outdoor recreation and our shared public lands and waters paying dividends for our local and national economies and quality of life,” said Jessica Turner, president of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). „Our industry continues to benefit communities across the country – large, small, urban and rural. To ensure that this success is sustainable and that our public lands and waters continue to be accessible to all Americans for generations to come, we will work with leaders to pass the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act by the end of this year.” We’re pleased to once again see the data reflect what we hear every day, not good for outdoor recreation — but essential for healthy people, places and economies.

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„BEA’s strong data aligns with our own sales numbers that show continued and overwhelming consumer interest in outdoor recreation with powersports vehicles,” said Eric Pritchard, CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Council, America’s specialty automotive organization. Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association. „In fact, dual-sport motorcycles, which can be used both on and off-road for recreation, have doubled in sales since 2016, and our data shows that off-road motorcycle sales are on a significant growth path. Having annual data from the BEA shows the significant economic impact the outdoor recreation industry brings to our country. It will help legislators understand why investments to protect and grow access to public lands and water are essential to the health of America and Americans. It demonstrates that federal funding pays big dividends for programs like the Recreational Trails Program, which benefit motorized and non-motorized recreational interests for people of all abilities.

„As we begin the 2023-24 snowmobile season, we’re excited to announce that snow and cold weather are here. Improved sales of snowmobile and related apparel and accessories remain strong,” said Ed Klim, president of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association. Shows are held and families fill the shows eager for a great season. Families are already making their winter travel plans on snowmobiles, expanding the economic impact of rural America and supporting outdoor activities on our public lands in national forests and state forests.

„The beneficial economic impact to communities that support outdoor recreation and guided recreation is undeniable,” said Aaron Bannon, executive director of the America Outdoors Association. „This latest BEA data demonstrates just how important this industry is and the critical role it plays in boosting the U.S. economy.”

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„Recreational boating continues to be a major driver of economic activity, and the new 2022 BEA data captures Americans’ desire to stay outdoors and on the water,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and current board president. Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). „Our industry saw record sales in 2020 and 2021, and that momentum will continue into 2022. However, as our industry is upside down, protecting Americans’ access to recreational activities is now more important than ever. It’s clear that people want to get outdoors, and as an industry, Americans want the outdoors they love.” We are working hard to ensure continued access to activities.

„We have long appreciated the physical, social and emotional benefits of spending time outdoors. This latest BEA data reinforces the compelling case for the outdoor recreation economy as a powerful driver of both GDP and jobs,” said Julie Sutton, senior director of government affairs and global impact, VF Corporation. „The data also shows that a deep love of the outdoors is shared across the country. As the industry creates connections with people across America, VF and its brands are committed to supporting a thriving entertainment economy for all.”

„It’s no surprise that outdoor recreation and the outdoor economy are showing great growth, supporting the historic trends in outdoor participation we’ve seen in recent years,” said Kent Ebersole, president of the Outdoor Industry Association. „The number of outdoor recreation participants increased for the eighth year in a row to 168.1 million participants, and new participants are increasingly diverse and expect businesses to be leaders in sustainability, equity and safety. This new data will strengthen the strength of the outdoor recreation industry and protect the benefits of the outdoors for all – and sustainably while increasing access.” It also demonstrates our collective power to drive economic growth.

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“BEA’s numbers support the rapid expansion we’ve seen firsthand in the road and landing industries. „While motorized recreation is a lifestyle and passion for millions of Americans, the money that OHV and overlanding enthusiasts invest in their vehicles is a key economic driver of the $1.08 trillion annual outdoor recreation economy,” said Mike Spagnola, CEO of the Specialty Equipment Market Association. It’s a major employer throughout the county, where specialty aftermarket businesses manufacture, install, and sell parts that upgrade everything from SUVs to trucks to OHVs, including wheels and tires, suspension upgrades, lift kits, winches, lighting products, and more. Even more.”

America’s outdoor recreation community, represented by ORR, continues to support the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) – which compiles and publishes this data. The goal is to provide annual data on the economic importance of national and regional outdoor recreation economies, which will be monitored over the coming years.

To learn more about ORR and the contributions of outdoor recreation to the economy, visit their website Here.

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