Outdoor recreation more than half a trillion dollar industry

Outdoor Recreation a $646 Billion National Industry
Western States $256 Billion Industry

For Immediate Release
June 10, 2012



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OIA - I Ling Thompson  (303) 327-3531
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Cle Elum, Wash. -- The Western Governors’ Association (WGA) and a coalition of outdoor industry groups today released a joint study documenting the continued growth and importance of outdoor recreation to the economies of the Western states and the nation.  The recreation economy was the topic of discussion at the opening session of WGA’s Annual Meeting being held here.


“The numbers are better than expected,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire (Wash.), WGA’s Chair.  “We knew that outdoor recreation was a growth sector and that it creates jobs, but this study documents just how important it is to our national and Western economies.”


Joining the Governors to discuss ways state and local governments can work with industry to grow the outdoor recreation economy were: Michael Caldwell, Mayor of Ogden, Utah; Sally Jewell, President and CEO of REI; Bennett Morgan, President and COO of Polaris Industries, Inc.; and Dusty McCoy, Chairman and CEO of the Brunswick Corporation.


“WGA will continue working with our industry partners to release state-by-state data later this year on the economic impact of outdoor recreation,” said Gov. Gary Herbert (Utah), WGA Vice Chair.  “With this information states can consider policy that will help to create more businesses, jobs and income related to outdoor recreation.”


Outdoor recreation is an overlooked economic giant.  With $646 billion in national sales and services in 2011, recreation dollars are nearly double the size of 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).  The full report can be found on the WGA Web site at www.westgov.org/reports.


This study marks the first time both the motorized and non-motorized sectors of the outdoor recreation industry have worked together to document the total size of the outdoor recreation economy.  The study, commissioned by the WGA, was conducted by Southwick and Associates.  Southwick surveyed households on actual expenditures on outdoor recreation then, based upon that data and modeling, generated the jobs, taxes, payroll and total economic impact.


The Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Foundation, Motorcycle Industry Council, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, Specialty Vehicle Institute of America and National Marine Manufacturers Association contributed funding for the study.


Following are comments from today’s speakers:


Sally Jewell: (on behalf of the Outdoor Industry Association)

“This study confirms the significant contribution the outdoor recreation industry makes to the American economy and way of life. Going forward, the data should inform public policies that support growth within our local communities and that sustain the beauty of our natural treasures for current and future generations.  Ultimately, we all want to inspire more people to experience the wonderful benefits that nature presents.”

Dusty McCoy: (on behalf of the National Marine Manufacturers Association)

“Engagement in outdoor recreation activities promotes health, wellness and fitness, and the investment in infrastructure that enables outdoor recreation activities fits squarely within these important strategic considerations.  The WGA report tells us that we are not only going to promote healthier lifestyles by focusing on outdoor recreation, but also support a key driver of jobs and economic growth in the nation and the West."


Bennett Morgan: (on behalf of the Motorcycle Industry Council, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association and Specialty Vehicle Institute of America)

“Polaris is passionate about outdoor recreation – it’s what we do. Outdoor recreation generates billions of dollars of economic benefit and tens of thousands of local, manufacturing and small business jobs throughout the country. We strongly encourage policy makers to capitalize on the significant job growth and revenue expanding opportunities it creates.” 

Mayor Caldwell: 

"Ogden’s strategic investment in recreation infrastructure and promotion of our vast natural resources through world-class events has been the catalyst to attract and recruit an outdoor recreation economic cluster.  That cluster has been an integral part in the revitalization and economic growth of our community.  This movement has also galvanized the community around a vibrant, healthy and active lifestyle ranking Ogden in the top 10 of America’s best cities to raise a family by Forbes Magazine." 


Web sites:

Outdoor Industry Association www.outdoorindustry.org

Outdoor Foundation www.outdoorfoundation.org

Motorcycle Industry Council www.mic.org

Specialty Vehicle Institute of America www.svia.org

Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association www.rohva.org

National Marine Manufacturers Association www.nmma.org

Western Governors’ Association www.westgov.org