New study: Outdoor recreation a $646 billion national industry

Press Release

CHICAGO – June 11, 2012 – National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) yesterday participated in the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) annual meeting in Cle Elum, Washington, alongside a coalition of outdoor industry groups to discuss the significance of the recreation economy and release a joint study on the continued growth and importance of outdoor recreation to the economies of the Western states and the nation.  The study shows that outdoor recreation is an overlooked economic giant with $646 billion in national sales and services in 2011, 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 study also found that in the Western states, the outdoor recreation generated $256 billion in sales and services in 2011.

“The numbers are better than we expected,” said Governor Chris Gregoire (Wash.), chair of the WGA.  “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.”

Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA, attended the meeting with NMMA member Brunswick Corporation’s Chairman and CEO Dusty McCoy who participated in a panel discussion with Governors from throughout the Western states to discuss ways state and local governments can work with industry to grow the outdoor recreation economy.

“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,” noted McCoy.

Additional members of the panel included Michael Caldwell, Mayor of Ogden, Utah: Sally Jewell, President and CEO of REI and Bennett Morgan, President and COO of Polaris Industries, Inc.

Commissioned by the WGA and conducted by Southwick and Associates, the 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. 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.

In addition to NMMA and WGA, other members of the coalition that funded the study include the Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Foundation, Motorcycle Industry Council, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America.

Click here for a full list of member Governors of the WGA.

NMMA will continue working with the coalition to analyze and release state-by-state data later this year on the overall economic impact of outdoor recreation.  This state-by-state data will help members of the outdoor recreation industry better inform policy makers and the public on the size and significance of outdoor recreation to the economy throughout North America.

The full report can be found on the WGA web site at

About NMMA: National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the leading association representing the recreational boating industry in North America. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters and anglers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The association is dedicated to industry growth through programs in public policy advocacy, market statistics and research, product quality assurance and promotion of the boating lifestyle. For more information, visit

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