Outdoor recreation brings $887 billion to U.S. economy, OIA says

Outdoor Industry Association releases 2017 recreation economy report

The latest Outdoor Recreation Economy Report is out, and the news is good: With the addition of seven more outdoor activities, recreation spending is now pegged at $887 billion each year.

Outdoor Recreation Economy

Graph: Outdoor Industry Association

WASHINGTON, D.C.—For years, the outdoor industry has been telling elected officials that their businesses are part of a growing $646 billion economy. Starting today, they’ll use a number that packs a whole lot more punch.

By the latest measurements, outdoor recreation contributes a whopping $887 billion to the U.S. economy every year. Since the last report, released in 2012, the Outdoor Industry Association has broadened the definition of “outdoor recreation” to include seven new activities: sailing, SCUBA diving, surfing, skateboarding, mountaineering, horseback riding, and running three or more miles on a trail.

OIA released its latest Outdoor Recreation Economy report early this morning at the Press Club in Washington, D.C., kicking off its annual Capitol Summit lobbying event.
Much of the $887 billion figure isn’t spent on gear, but on the entire outdoor experience. Many outdoorists will fly to another part of the country for a backpacking trip, for example, so they’re spending money locally in the communities they visit along the way, on food supplies, lodging, and transportation.

In reality, the total amount spent on outdoor recreation in the United States could be even higher; that $887 billion number does not include by international visitors who come here for recreation purposes.

Among the revelations about how outdoor recreation ranks as a priority for Americans:
As a country, we spend more money on trail sports gear ($20 billion) than on home entertainment ($18 billion); more on water sports gear ($14 billion) than on movie tickets ($11 billion); and more on cycling and skateboarding ($97 billion) than on video games ($61 billion).

Outdoor recreation activities

Graph: Outdoor Industry Association

All of this spending results in 7.6 million American jobs, $65 billion in federal tax revenue, and $59 billion in state tax revenue, the report says.

And it’s nearly three times the amount consumers spend on gasoline and fuels.