Western Governors’ Association: Outdoor recreation in western states = $255.6 billion

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Here’s the release from the Western Governors’ Association website (Chris McKinnon/I Ling Thompson/Kathy Van Kleeck/Thom Dammrich)

The Western Governors’ Association (WGA) and a coalition of outdoor industry groups today released a joint study documenting the continued growth and importance of outdoor recreation to the economies of the Western states and the nation. The recreation economy was the topic of discussion at the opening session of WGA’s Annual Meeting being held here.

“The numbers are better than expected,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire (Wash.), WGA’s Chair. “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.”

Joining the Governors to discuss ways state and local governments can work with industry to grow the outdoor recreation economy were: Michael Caldwell, Mayor of Ogden, Utah; Sally Jewell, President and CEO of REI; Bennett Morgan, President and COO of Polaris Industries, Inc.; and Dusty McCoy, Chairman and CEO of the Brunswick Corporation.

“WGA will continue working with our industry partners to release state-by-state data later this year on the economic impact of outdoor recreation,” said Gov. Gary Herbert (Utah), WGA Vice Chair. “With this information states can consider policy that will help to create more businesses, jobs and income related to outdoor recreation.”

Outdoor recreation is an overlooked economic giant. With $646 billion in national sales and services in 2011, recreation dollars are 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 full report can be found on the WGA Web site at www.westgov.org/reports.

This 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. The study, commissioned by the WGA, was conducted by Southwick and Associates. 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.

The Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Foundation, Motorcycle Industry Council, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, Specialty Vehicle Institute of America and National Marine Manufacturers Association contributed funding for the study.

From the report:

Western States — Tax Revenue
Spending on outdoor recreation generates significant tax revenues for local and state governments. In westernstates in 2011 it generated an estimated:

$15.41 billion in Federal tax receipts
$15.38 billion in state and local tax receipts

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