Outdoor Recreation Industry Posts Big Gains in 2021
The Outdoor Recreation Industry is a major economic force in the country and in many states, according to new data released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).
In 2021, the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 1.9% – or $454 billion – of current dollar U.S. gross domestic product.
Inflation-adjusted GDP for outdoor recreation jumped 18.9% in 2021 compared with 5.9% growth for the overall economy. Employment in the industry rose 13.1% and accounted for 4.5 million jobs
When it comes to the gross economic output, which BEA describes as an industry’s sales to consumers and other final users (found in GDP), as well as sales to other industries (intermediate inputs not counted in GDP), the number grows even bigger.
Gross economic output for the outdoor recreation industry totaled $862 billion in 2021.
Growth Comes from Travel and Tourism Activities
The BEA breaks down the outdoor recreation industry into three sectors:
- Conventional – bicycling, hunting, boating, hiking, skiing, surfing, etc.
- Supporting – travel and tourism-related activities
- Other – gardening, outdoor concerts, etc.
If you dig deeper into the numbers, the big growth in 2021 came from the Supporting category as travel and tourism-related activities rebounded post COVID-19.
The Supporting category accounted for 47.3% of the outdoor recreation total in 2021, compared to 42.4% in 2020.
The Conventional category actually declined to 35.1% compared to the COVID boom of 40.1% in 2020.
The Other category accounted for 17.6% of the total, a slight increase compared to 17.5% in 2020.
Additional Data about 2021, Including Snow Numbers
Boating and fishing was the biggest Conventional activity at $27.3 billion. The largest contributors by state are:
- Florida: $4 billion
- California: $2.3 billion
- Texas: $2 billion.
RVing was the second biggest Conventional activity at $25.1 billion.
The largest contributors by state are:
Indiana: $5.4 billion
Texas: $2.2 billion
California: $2 billion.
Hunting/shooting/trapping was the third largest at $10.8 billion. The largest contributors by state are:
Texas: $1.2 billion
California: $763.8 million
Georgia: $555.2 million.
Snow activities came in sixth at $5.2 billion. The largest snow contributors by state are:
Colorado: $1.3 billion
Utah: $519.4 million
California: $505.7 million.
ATV/Motorcycling and equestrian came in fourth and fifth, respectively.
OIA Happy with Numbers
After the data was released, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) sent a note to its members touting the numbers.
“These numbers help us communicate our compelling and credible economic story,” wrote Hannah Wintucky, OIA Government Affairs Policy Fellow. “Coupled with the Outdoor Foundation’s recent findings that outdoor participation levels are at an all-time high, the economic data reinforces the strength of the outdoor industry as both an economic and a social force.”