Boating-fishing are top contributors to outdoor recreation

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The Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, today released data on the outdoor recreation economy at the national and state levels for all 50 states. Last year the BEA released national-level data for the first time that established the outdoor recreation economy, which includes boating and fishing, as a unique and important sector of the national economy.

This year’s data shows the outdoor recreation economy is growing faster than the domestic economy as a whole. According to a BEA statement, outdoor recreation makes up 2.2 percent of U.S. GDP, generating $778 billion in gross output and supporting 5.2 million jobs. In terms of economic output, boating/fishing, RVing, motorcycling/ATVing, hunting/shooting/trapping and equestrian sports are the five largest outdoor recreation activities.

Boating/fishing was the largest outdoor activity at $20.9 billion, according to the report. At the state level, boating/fishing was the largest conventional activity in 29 states and District of Columbia, led by Florida ($2.7 billion) and California ($1.8 billion).

The NMMA and other industry associations have said that reliable data will help its advocacy efforts on the state and national levels. “While this report contains many invaluable insights, there is one takeaway that bears repeating: The outdoor recreation industry – led by boating and fishing – has earned its seat at the decision-making table,” said Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA senior vice president of government and legal affairs, in a separate statement. “Armed with this new, robust set of data, we will continue educating policymakers on actions they should take to promote and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities across the country.”

“Since introducing outdoor recreation statistics last year, it’s been good to hear businesspeople, policymakers, and outdoor enthusiasts confirm the value of these data,” said Brian Moyer, director of BEA, in the statement. “Today we’re taking these economic data to the next level by breaking them down by state, showing the impact of activities like bicycling, fishing, and skiing in the places where the equipment is made, the park fees are paid, and people have fun.”

Outdoor recreation’s GDP is larger than mining, utilities, farming and ranching, and chemical products manufacturing.

According to the BEA report, the top five states where outdoor recreation accounts for the largest percentage of each states’ GDP are Hawaii, Montana, Maine, Vermont and Wyoming. The top five states where outdoor recreation accounts for the largest percentage of total U.S. GDP are California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas.

“Today’s release of state data is a significant step forward for the entire outdoor recreation industry,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, in a statement. “This second full year of national data – together with prototype state-level numbers – proves that our industry is a driving economic force across the country. ORR will continue to work with Congress, federal agencies, state governments and others to ensure that everyone has access to our public lands and waters and that our nation’s outdoor infrastructure can sustain and grow healthy communities and healthy economies.”

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