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In 2011 Western Governors created the Get Out West! initiative. The purpose of the initiative was to identify the economic contribution of outdoor recreation and tourism to the health of our local economies as well as our citizens. In addition to promoting outdoor recreation and tourism across the West, the initiative was designed to highlight successful strategies for managing the recreational assets that serve as the foundation of the outdoor recreation and tourism sectors.
Highlighting the Importance of the Outdoor Recreation Industry
Outdoor recreation is an overlooked economic giant. Wetern Governors and the outdoor recreation industry jointly released A Snapshot of the Impact of Outdoor Recreation showing that outdoor recreation equipment and trips generated $646 billion in national sales and services in 2011. That is nearly double the size of the sale pharmaceuticals ($331 billion) and motor vehicles/parts ($340 billion). As another comparison, it powers the economy in a manner comparable to the financial services and insurance industry ($780 billion) and outpatient health care ($767 billion).
Western Governors are working with The Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Foundation, Motorcycle Industry Council, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, Specialty Vehicle Institute of America and National Marine Manufacturers Association to release state by state numbers by February 2013.
Getting Kids and Famlies Outdoors
People in the West are spending less time enjoying the region's great outdoor spaces. We have additional leisure time options not available a couple generations ago – gaming devices, 24 hour cable TV, movies on demand on mobile devices. Eight-eighteen year olds spend more than 7½ hours a day, seven days a week with some form of electronic media.
The Get Out West Advisory Group's report on youth and the outdoors offers nine recommendations on actions Governors could take and roles they can play to help connect kids and young families to the West outdoor places and heritage. One of the Advisory Group's recommendations was to use peer to peer outreach to encourage kids to Get Out West!
Based upon the advisory group's recommendation, Outdoor Nation and the Western Governors' Association have launched a new campaign called YOuROC (youth outdoor recreation outdoor coordinator). The campaign will empower one young, extraordinary leader in each state to spearhead an outreach program that inspires a new generation to get outdoors. The first phase of the program will launch in Colorado, Idaho and South Dakota. Other western states will be announced soon so be sure to come back to this webpage for more information.
Managing Recreation Assets
Successfully managing the West's recreation assets is a key factor in facilitating positive outdoor recreation experiences for the region's citizens and tourists and for local economic development and job creation in communities around these places. The Get Out West initiative interviewed recreation managers interviewed to identify challenges and recommendations for managing recreation assets and infrastructure.
The results of the interviews and the Get Out West's Advisory Group recommendations are contained in Managing The Region's Recreation Assets (June 2012). In addition examples of successful management of recreation assets are compiled in Managing Recreation Assets -- Case Studies (June 2012). Western Governors are working together to ensure that the West's unparalleled recreation assets continue to provide wonder and enjoyment – and the foundation for a powerful economic sector – for generations to come.