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Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis Reports Outdoor Recreation Economy Tops $1 Trillion in 2022

Travel and Tourism Leads by Industry, Reflecting Growth in Spending on Transportation, Hotels, and Restaurants

People are getting out more and outdoor recreation continues to drive America’s economy. According to last month’s report from the Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the outdoor recreation economy topped $1 trillion for the first time with significant growth in outdoor recreational activities led by the travel and tourism industry, reflecting growth in spending on transportation, hotels, and restaurants.

"Travel and tourism returned with force in 2022 as we opened up our country once again to visitors from around the globe,” said Secretary Raimondo. “Since day one of the Biden Administration, the Commerce Department has taken decisive actions to support this industry’s recovery.”

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

The outdoor recreation by industry data shows the industries’ contributions to the outdoor recreation economy, including their impact on value added, gross output, employment, and compensation. In 2022, travel and tourism accounted for 46 percent of the value added to the outdoor recreation economy.

The retail trade industry group was the nation’s largest contributor to U.S. outdoor recreation accounting for $153.6 billion, or 27.3 percent. Retail trade was the most significant contributor to outdoor trade at the state level among 28 states.

Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services were the second-largest contributors to the outdoor recreation economy. For the Nation, it accounted for $144.5 billion or 25.6 percent, and manufacturing was the third-largest industry group for the country at $77.6 billion or 13.8 percent.  

Among the largest conventional activities for the Nation were recreational vehicle travel at $35.5 billion for 22 states; boating/fishing as second at $32.4 billion in 24 states and the District of Columbia; motorcycling/ATVing at $11.5 billion with Wisconsin leading among all states; and snow activities at $7.0 billion with Colorado, California, and Utah leading among all states.

Released last year, the Commerce Department’s 2022 National Travel and Tourism Strategy aims to support broad-based economic growth in travel and tourism across the United States with a five-year goal of increasing American jobs by attracting and welcoming 90 million international visitors estimated to spend $279 billion annually by 2027. Earlier this month, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced the appointments of 32 leaders from businesses and organizations in the domestic travel and tourism industry to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.

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