The Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) has released “The Outdoor Recreation Economy,” a report detailing the national economic impact of outdoor recreation in the United States. This follow-up and expansion to their 2006 report demonstrates that outdoor recreation is big business in this country, to the tune of:
- 6.1 million direct American jobs
- $646 billion in direct consumer spending each year
- $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue
- $39.7 billion in state/local tax revenue
This new study reinforces what the outdoor industry has known for a long time — outdoor recreation is a larger and more critical sector of the American economy than most people realize.
Today OIA is on Capitol Hill to roll out the report at a briefing with Senator Mark Udall (D-CO); Representative Charles Bass (R-NH); officials from the White House, Department of the Interior, Department of Commerce, and Small Business Administration; and members of the media. Will Manzer, CEO of Eastern Mountain Sports; Dusty McCoy, chairman and CEO of Brunswick Corp.; and Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, the firm that conducted the research; spoke at the event, reinforcing the message that outdoor recreation is big business that creates jobs and supports our economy.
“During a time when many American industries are struggling, we are seeing solid growth,” said Will Manzer, CEO of Eastern Mountain Sports and chair of the OIA Board of Directors. “Since 2005, the outdoor recreation economy has grown approximately 5 percent annually. In fact, outdoor recreation supports a significant number of jobs — on par with other sizeable American industries.”
America is recognized globally as the leader in outdoor recreation. CEOs from leading outdoor recreation companies are calling on policymakers to take action to promote this critical component of the American economy.
“As a horizontal industry in a vertical nation, outdoor recreation is often overlooked,” said Manzer. “However, outdoor recreation directly fuels major sectors of the American economy like manufacturing, hospitality and transportation. Just like any other sector of the U.S. economy, outdoor recreation needs support to continue to thrive.”
“This is the definition of a win-win scenario,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of OIA. “In this country today, we’re battling an economic recession, a healthcare crisis, and we’re trying to create safe and sustainable places for families to live. The outdoor industry provides solutions for all of this. It’s time that we tell this story to protect our industry, its jobs and our customers.”
Armed with the data in this report, we can increase our influence with elected officials in order to pass policies that protect our public lands and support our industry. More importantly, the comprehensive view in this report delivers a bi-partisan business message that will help our industry gain clout and support on Capitol Hill, in state capitols and beyond.
Until now, the only message that clearly and consistently linked public lands to jobs and the economy came from the extractive industries (e.g., oil, gas, mining). Now we can emphatically make the case that we can extract economic value from our natural resources without depleting them. Outdoor recreation can continue to be a growing jobs generator and an economic driver in the United States if we manage and invest in parks, waters and rails as a system designed to sustain these economic dividends for America.