Outdoor Recreation Is Worth $374 Billion to the U.S. Economy

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government has put a number on how much outdoor recreation, from paddling to paintball, contributes to the economy: $374 billion.

That’s how much the industry accounted for in nominal gross domestic product in 2016, according to Commerce Department estimates released Wednesday. The data were compiled in accordance with a 2016 law directing the government to quantify the sector and assess its effect on the U.S. economy.

The value-added related to outdoor recreational activities, like fishing and skiing, grew 3.8 percent on a nominal basis in 2016, outpacing the 2.8 percent rate in the broader economy, according to the report.

Outdoor Recreation Is Worth $374 Billion to the U.S. Economy

The gross output of outdoor recreation activity was broken down into three categories: conventional recreation at 37 percent, other recreation at 22 percent, and supporting activities at 41 percent.

Major categories in the conventional recreation economy include boats, motorcycles and recreational vehicles, as well as hunting, bicycling and fishing. Purchases of multi-use apparel such as backpacks and bug spray, also labeled as conventional recreation, contributed $86.6 billion in gross output, up almost $6 billion from 2015.

The leading contributors in the “other recreation” category included golf and tennis areas, concerts, and sporting events. Trips and travel expenses, filed under “supporting outdoor recreation,” accounted for 34 percent, or $230.5 billion, of total outdoor gross output.

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