The outdoors are big business.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, recently released outdoor recreation economic data for 2021. It shows outdoor recreation was responsible for $862 billion in economic output and 4.5 million jobs. This is 1.9 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
COVID’s impact on outdoor recreation was huge. It gave enthusiasts more opportunity to spend time outdoors, but it also drove people who rarely ventured out into new sports and pastimes. Record sales were recorded in many outdoor segments. Travel restrictions taught us to look for opportunities to recreate closer to home.
Now we’re back to hitting the road, and lots of people are eager to visit destinations where they can participate in their newfound activities.
In a press release issued by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and current board chair of the ORR said:
“Last year proved to be a year like no other for the outdoor recreation industry, and today’s Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account data release underscores the fact that boating and time spent on our nation’s waterways is a favorite American pastime. Since 2020, the recreational boating and fishing industry and outdoor recreation economy at-large has led a national recovery, welcoming millions of families to experience the considerable health benefits of the great outdoors while being a vital economic contributor and job creator.”
Sportsmen can be guilty of staying in our silos of hunting and fishing. We may not think of how broad the outdoor recreation industry is. Boating isn’t just for catching fish. All those ski boats and pontoon boats are making an impact on the economy. So don’t get too mad when they come blowing by while you’re fishing a brush pile. Hopefully, they’ll give you some space. When it comes to funding conservation, we really are all in it together.
“We have seen record growth in camping and boating over the past couple years, with millions of people enjoying RVs and boats to connect with family and friends, to relax and recharge, and to experience nature,” said Michael Happe, President and CEO of Winnebago Industries. “The record economic impact in the BEA numbers demonstrates the collective power of our industry to help people discover and experience the tremendous benefits of the outdoor lifestyle. We continue to welcome an increasingly diverse group of new participants, so we look forward to maintaining this momentum by developing recreation infrastructure and increasing access for all.”
Camping is where my love of the outdoors originated. We always had a camper while I was growing up. Potato Creek, Tippecanoe and Turkey Run State Parks in Indiana are the wild places where my love of wildlife sprouted. We’d spend hours on bikes, riding trails and looking for deer. Going camping is generally tied to other outdoor activities.
“The continued strength of the outdoor economy is no surprise to the marine industry, where we continue to see incredible growth with new and younger customers taking to our brands each year,” said Chris Drees, President of Mercury Marine, the world’s leading manufacturer of recreational marine propulsion engines. “We will continue to work closely with our partners in the outdoor recreational community to promote the benefits of being on the water.”
Through social media, we’re all able to share stories and provide others with inspiration to go outside. We can educate and inform friends and followers of special places and new ways to experience nature. Outdoor media plays a role in spreading the word of opportunities.
“Our members, which include more than 600 outdoor media across the country, saw an explosion of interest in outdoor activities over the past few years — including expanded coverage by mass media in outdoor recreation,” said Katie McKalip, President of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. “It’s been excellent to be able to reach even more people to inspire them to get outdoors — and ultimately help conserve our precious outdoor spaces.”
The great outdoors are open for business. Whether you’re a hunter or angler, bird-watcher or boater, you’re lucky to live in this country where our special brand of freedom allows us to enjoy our public lands and waters.
See you down the trail.
For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast on www.driftwoodoutdoors.com or anywhere podcasts are streamed.