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Report calculates $673 billion outdoor recreation industry economic impact

By The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas

A first-ever government report recognizing the outdoor recreation industry as a significant economic contributor to U.S. GDP calculates the industry’s annual gross output to be $673 billion, surpassing other sectors such as agriculture, petroleum and coal, and computer and electronic products. 

Released by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)—the government agency responsible for reporting U.S. GDP—the report marks a critical step forward for the outdoor recreation industry by formally recognizing its economic influence.

“Today’s report affirms what those of us in the outdoor community already know – outdoor recreation has a far-reaching positive impact across the U.S. and our economy,” said Thom Dammrich, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable chair and president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

“As an industry, we are proud to generate millions of American jobs and be a driving economic force from coast to coast, and we are grateful that BEA and the Department of Commerce have decided to recognize that," Dammrich said. "This report is further evidence of the need for sound public policy that encourages continued growth in the outdoor recreation industry.”

ORR was formed in February 2018 with the merger of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable, a coalition of America’s leading outdoor recreation trade associations, and the American Recreation Coalition, an organization of recreation interests that has had a significant and positive impact on outdoor recreation for more than three decades.

ORR is committed to advancing the basic elements needed to grow this vital economic sector, including sound and sustainable management of U.S. public lands and waters, and updating infrastructure and technology on those lands to create quality experiences in response to changing recreation preferences.

“This recognition of outdoor recreation as a significant sector of the American economy underscores the importance of the work that our members and thousands of other businesses engage in every day,” said Matt Gruhn, president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. “As we look to the future, we hope that this will serve as a reminder to our policymakers that the upkeep of our nation’s waters and public lands is vital to economic success.”  

In addition to reporting on the outdoor recreation industry’s annual gross output, the BEA’s initial findings report that outdoor recreation makes up 2 percent of the U.S. GDP.

More importantly, the outdoor recreation industry’s GDP has increased an average of 4.4 percent since 2012, significantly greater than the 3.6 percent average increase in the overall U.S. GDP. 

“This is a welcome signal of the critical economic role outdoor recreation plays in the United States,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, ORR vice chair and president of the RV Industry Association.  “We are thrilled to represent a rapidly growing industry that helps keep America’s economy strong and brings enjoyment to millions of Americans. Given the right public policies, outdoor recreation will continue to be an American economic engine for years to come.”

The full report issued by ORSA and BEA can be found here.

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