A group of U.S. Senators are rallying support for outdoor recreation in the next Covid-19 relief package, drawing praise from boating industry advocates.
The group says bringing back jobs lost from the Covid-19 pandemic requires more investment, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
“While we support ongoing efforts to support businesses and workers in the outdoor industry by ensuring they are fully eligible for all Covid-19 recovery programs and encourage additional steps to address tariffs and fees that hit this sector particularly hard, none of these stopgap measures are in and of themselves sufficient for recovery and robust job creation,” stated the letter.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 75 percent of small businesses in the category that includes outdoor recreation are struggling due to the crisis, the letter stated.
“Our nation’s outdoor economy is hurting,” wrote the senators. “While it’s heartening that many Americans are turning to nearby nature with appropriate social distancing for exercise and mental health benefits, few are spending money while doing so, and many are cancelling trips, impacting outdoor tourism economies nationwide.
An investment in our natural resources will not only create jobs, the letter said, but also improve public health in a number of ways, including “removing pollution from our air and water; expand access to nature and recreational amenities; bolster community resilience to hurricanes, inland floods, and wildfires; sequester carbon dioxide; reclaim degraded lands; and recover imperiled fish and wildlife species.”
In addition to the outdoor rec sectors, the bill will also help industries like forestry, agriculture and ranching — all disproportionally affected by Covid-19.
The outdoor tourism and recreation industry employ 5.2 million American workers — 3.4 percent of total U.S. employment — and accounts for 2.2 percent of GDP.