The outdoor recreation economy is thriving and benefitting many communities. Participation in the outdoors continues to grow, even during the Coronavirus pandemic. In this report, produced in partnership with the State Outdoor Business Alliance Network (SOBAN), we show the economic contributions of outdoor recreation.
Outdoor recreation contributes to economic success.
Outdoor recreation is a large and growing employer, providing jobs to almost 5.2 million people who earn more than $226.3 billion dollars.
Outdoor recreation contributes $459.8 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (three times the size of the airline industry).
Outdoor recreation exists in a diversity of industries. Value-added contributions from arts, entertainment, accommodation and food services; retail trade; manufacturing; transportation; and wholesale trade are among the largest contributors.
Outdoor recreation supports community values
In this report we illustrate how investments in outdoor recreation support diverse community values, such as public health, equity, transportation alternatives, and resilience to natural disasters. We also highlight the need to anticipate challenges that can be associated with outdoor recreation, such as diversifying the economy, developing affordable housing, creating inclusive access, and reducing the impact to the environment. Also, while the demand for outdoor recreation access and equipment grew during the pandemic, some companies were faced with significant supply and distribution constraint challenges.
The future for outdoor recreation
To continue building a robust future for outdoor recreation, the outdoor sector needs investments in outdoor infrastructure, businesses that support collaboration and sustainable growth, a talent pipeline to build a skilled workforce, and marketing resources that ensure quality and equity. The State Outdoor Business Alliance Network (SOBAN) envisions that outdoor recreation includes robust economies, thriving outdoor places, and inclusive outdoor recreation for all people. More than two dozen organizations in 18 U.S. states, plus two in British Columbia make up the SOBAN network today. SOBAN shares knowledge, opportunities, and best practices to strengthen commerce, infrastructure and participation in the outdoors. See SOBAN to learn more.
Additional Helpful Resources
- Bureau of Economic Analysis, Outdoor Recreation (scroll down to Interactive Data)
- Headwaters Economics, Library of Trails Benefits
- Headwaters Economics, Outdoor Recreation research
- The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Rural Economic Development Toolkit
- Outdoor Industry Association, Participation Report
- American Sportfishing Association, Data Dashboard (fishing & hunting participation)
- National Park Service, Visitor Spending Effects