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Americans spend more on bicycling gear and trips ($81 billion) than they do on airplane tickets and fees ($51 billion), and nearly as much on snow sports ($53 billion) as on internet access ($54 billion), according to a 2012 report by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA).
OIA predicts that Americans spend $646 billion each year on outdoor recreation, which supports 6.1 million direct jobs and $80 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue. Outdoor recreation includes gear, such as apparel, footwear, tents, and bikes; vehicles, such as boats, RVs, and motorcycles; and trips and travel.
In many communities, it’s outdoor recreation that provides steady employment. “Advancements in technical apparel, footwear and equipment are driving innovation and entrepreneurism, while creating a demand for highly skilled workers in areas like technology, product design, manufacturing, sustainability and global commerce,” the report states.
However, this report is from an industry organization. Outdoor recreation is not objectively measured by the federal government, like other goods and services that contribute to our nation’s economy.
In December 2016, Congress passed the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act to officially assess how the outdoor recreation industry contributes to the nation’s economy.
The findings should be released in 2018.
Federal, state and local officials should pay attention to the economic contributions of people who play outdoors and invest in and sustain quality places to walk, bike and play.
In 2017, OIA announced an update to their 2012 report, stating that outdoor recreation contributes $887 billion (up from $646 billion) and generates 7.6 million jobs (up from 6.1 million).