Monday, October 1, 2018

UPDATED FEDERAL REPORT – Outdoor Recreation has $412B Economic Impact

Florence Yamaha/Polaris Dealer
SxS Sales, Service, and Accessories
Near OR Dunes National Recreation Area

On September 20, 2018, the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released updated data that shows the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2 percent ($412 billion) of current-dollar Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016. The BEA report notes the outdoor recreation economy grew 1.7 percent in 2016 which was faster than the 1.6 percent growth for the overall U.S. economy.


These updated fiscal numbers are an increase from an earlier BEA preliminary report issued in February 2018 that showed the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.0 percent ($373.7 billion) of current-dollar GDP in 2016.

BEA Chart on Outdoor Recreation Economic Impact

The new report states that motorcycling/ATVing activities accounted for $20.3 billion of real gross output in 2016, representing one of the fastest-growing activities at 8.0 percent growth from the previous year.

Factor 55 - Aftermarket Company 
Manufactures Closed System Winching Products
Vendor at 2018 Pomona Off-Road Expo 

After an initial review of this new report, QWR believes BEA may be actually underreporting the economic impact of “off-road” motorized recreation.  While BEA should be commended for disaggregating motorcycle and ATV use from other motorized activities such as RVing,  it appears the agency has failed to capture the direct and growing off-road economic impact of larger OHVs such as Side x Sides (SxS), jeep-type vehicles, four-wheel drive pickups, and all-wheel drive SUVs.

SUV Exploring Designated OHV Route
Eldorado National Forest

QWR found it hard to identify where BEA captured the economic impact that comes from off-road motorized access to non-motorized recreation activities such as hunting, fishing, driving for pleasure, races, and wildlife viewing which are often highly dependent on motorized vehicle use.

SxS Touring on BLM Historic "Route 66" OHV Trail

Don Amador, President of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting, states, “I believe BEA should try and capture the ‘off-road’ motorized recreation economic benefits where the larger OHVs are used as the primary activity or they provide access to non-motorized recreation activities. Most federal and state land agencies consider any motorized vehicle to be an OHV or off-road vehicle when being operated on native surfaced routes.”

Off-Road-based Camping Products
Photo Credit - Del Albright

“There are huge economic benefits associated with off-road recreation.  A growing number of rural economies are based on SxS and/or street-legal OHV use.  Also, off-road recreation oriented manufacturing, aftermarket, and vehicle dealers deserve to have their economic impact factored into future BEA reports,” Amador concludes.

Off-Road Touring Event for Street Legal 4WD Vehicles
Rubicon Trail - Eldorado National Forest 

 QWR believes this BEA economic impact report provides land agencies and government officials with important information that can and should be used in current and future recreation planning efforts.

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