Government Confirms Outdoor Recreation Industry Is a Significant Economic Contributor

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

A recent ORR event included (left to right) SEMA Congressional Affairs Director Eric Snyder, U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, SEMA Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs Stuart Gosswein and SEMA Research Manager Neal Billig.  

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that the outdoor recreation industry’s annual gross output is around $673 billion. This represents 2% of the nation’s total gross domestic product (GDP) and surpasses other sectors, such as agriculture, petroleum and coal and computer and electronic products. Outdoor recreation covers a variety of activities, from off-roading to biking, boating, hiking and hunting. Motorized vehicles were the largest activity within the survey of 2016 data, accounting for $59.4 billion of gross output.

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), of which SEMA is a member, applauded the release of the first-ever government analysis of the industry. The numbers translate into millions of American jobs.

The ORR was formed in February 2018 with the merger of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable, a coalition of America’s leading outdoor recreation trade associations, and the American Recreation Coalition, an organization of recreation interests that has had a significant impact on outdoor recreation for more than three decades.  

The ORR’s primary objectives are:

  • Achieve recognition that outdoor recreation is a major economic player and that growth of the outdoor recreation economy is a necessary and bipartisan goal.
  • Persuade the federal government to embrace a pro-recreation “culture change.”
  • Increase recreational access to public lands and waters.
  • Advocate for sustainable funding and increased usage of public-private partnerships.
  • Boost infrastructure modernization and reduce backlogged maintenance to produce better visitor experiences.
  • Continue to support responsible conservation efforts.
  • Encourage the next generation’s participation in outdoor recreation activities.

ORR representatives meet frequently with federal/state lawmakers and regulators to pursue the stated objectives. Most recently, the ORR hosted a reception attended by Governors Gary Herbert (UT), John Hickenlooper (CO) and Matt Mead (WY) and Dept. of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.