The Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is part of the Department of Commerce, has announced that the outdoor recreation industry surpassed a value of $1 trillion in the year 2022.

Outdoor Recreation Economy Surpasses $1 Trillion in 2022, According to Commerce Department Report

On December 15, 2023, the Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released a report stating that the outdoor recreation economy has surpassed $1 trillion for the first time. This significant milestone reflects the growth in spending on transportation, hotels, and restaurants, with the travel and tourism industry leading the way.

“People are getting out more and outdoor recreation continues to drive America’s economy,” said Secretary Raimondo. “Since day one of the Biden Administration, the Commerce Department has taken decisive actions to support this industry’s recovery.”

In 2022, the outdoor recreation economy saw a 4.8% increase in inflation-adjusted (“real”) GDP, compared to a 1.9% increase for the overall U.S. economy. Real gross output for the outdoor recreation economy grew by 7.5%, while outdoor recreation compensation increased by 9.1%. Additionally, outdoor recreation employment increased in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The report also breaks down the contributions of different industries to the outdoor recreation economy. In 2022, travel and tourism accounted for 46% of the value added to the outdoor recreation economy. The retail trade industry group was the largest contributor, accounting for $153.6 billion or 27.3%. Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services were the second-largest contributors, accounting for $144.5 billion or 25.6%.

At the state level, retail trade was the most significant contributor to outdoor recreation in 28 states. The top conventional activities for the nation included recreational vehicle travel, boating/fishing, motorcycling/ATVing, and snow activities. These activities contributed billions of dollars to the outdoor recreation economy, with states like Wisconsin, Colorado, California, and Utah leading the way.

The report also highlights the Commerce Department’s 2022 National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which aims to support economic growth in travel and tourism across the United States. The five-year goal of this strategy is to attract and welcome 90 million visitors, creating more American jobs.

The outdoor recreation economy’s continued growth is a testament to the resilience and importance of this industry. As people continue to prioritize outdoor activities, the Commerce Department remains committed to supporting its recovery and growth.  

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