New Report Says Boating a Significant Part of the Outdoor Recreation Economy

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) yesterday released the 2017 edition of the Outdoor Recreation Economy Report, the largest and most comprehensive report of its kind, which captures the power of a vast economic engine that creates billions of dollars in consumer spending and millions of good-paying American jobs. As part of the Outdoor Recreation economic engine, water sports, which includes boating, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, surfing, scuba and stand-up paddle boarding, generates an estimated $139.9 billion in direct spending, 1,234,876 jobs, $43.8 billion in wages, $10.6 billion in federal taxes and $9.6 billion in state taxes.
“From the smallest rural towns to the most densely populated cities, outdoor recreation makes America stronger,” said Amy Roberts, OIA executive director. “This report makes clear that the outdoor recreation economy is not only thriving, but a powerful economic force that embodies the American spirit. Public lands and waters are the foundation of this powerful economic force. By investing in and protecting America’s public lands and waters, we invest in our future and the continued well-being of America. Together, we can thrive outside.”
“It is critical for NMMA and recreational boating to work collaboratively with OIA and our outdoor partners to impress upon decision makers the economic importance of recreation. The OIA report highlights the strength of our spending, jobs, and economic impact,” notes Nicole Vasilaros, vice president of federal and legal affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “In 2016, alongside our partners in the outdoors, we are proud to have made significant strides in bringing attention to the impact of outdoor recreation with the signing into law of the bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC) Act, which calls for the federal government to annually measure the contribution of the outdoor industry to our nation’s GDP. We look forward to President Trump following through on the REC Act to ensure outdoor recreation is properly counted and will assist policymakers and regulators to make more informed decisions when it comes to boating and the outdoor recreation.”
The OIA report notes that public lands and waters are the outdoor industry’s basic infrastructure, and without them the industry cannot survive. Preserving access is imperative to enhancing the industry’s economic and social impact. Access ensures every American’s ability to get outside where jobs, health and communities grow. These are reasons water access is a key focus for NMMA—a topic that will be addressed at the upcoming American Boating Congress, May 15-17 in Washington, DC.
Key findings from the report include:
  • The outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending annually, sustains 7.6 million American jobs and generates $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue each year.
  • Spending on outdoor recreation far outpaces other popular activities, for example, water sports gear spending ($14 billion) outpaces movie ticket spending ($11 billion).
  • Outdoor recreation provides significant health benefits and lower public health care costs through physical activity and by reducing stress and obesity rates.
In this year’s report, OIA added data on seven new activities: surfing, skateboarding, horseback riding, running 3+ miles, mountaineering, scuba diving and sailing, some of which are a reflection of the nation’s shifting demographics and interests.  
The full report can be found here.
Please contact Kelsi Morris at [email protected] with questions.