Last week, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed the state budget bill into law, which subsequently created the Office of Outdoor Recreation within Wisconsin Tourism – an important initiative that will help expand outdoor recreation opportunities in the state.
With this measure, Wisconsin becomes the 14th state to establish an outdoor recreation office, a testament to the growing understanding of the industry’s economic importance across the country. The NMMA has been actively advocating for the creation outdoor recreation offices, including in Wisconsin, and is a top priority of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR).
“Our goal is to leverage the Office of Outdoor Recreation into more travelers, greater economic impact for local communities and new career opportunities for Wisconsinites," Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney said. "We consider this to be a game changer for Wisconsin. With one unified voice and shared priorities among stakeholders and resources, the sky’s the limit in growing this segments economy.”
Like the outdoor recreation offices and initiatives in 13 other states, the Wisconsin office will work to engage a new and diverse generation of Wisconsinites with the outdoors while focusing on growing local economies through recreation and tourism. Wisconsin is one of the first Midwest states to create a recreation office.
Outdoor recreation is a vital part of the economy, accounting for 2.2 percent of total gross domestic product (GDP). In Wisconsin, outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse which generates nearly $17.9 billion in consumer spending, contributes $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue, and directly supports 168,000 Wisconsin jobs.
NMMA and ORR are actively working with governors and legislatures across the nation to create more outdoor recreation offices. Currently, the coalition is calling for California to establish an office. To that effect, a bill creating an office has passed the Assembly and is awaiting committee hearings in the Senate.