September 12, 2018

BEA’s first-ever measurement of the economic power of outdoor recreation, released in February, found that the industry’s contribution to the U.S. economy in 2016 was bigger than other industries like legal services or publishing. Soon people will learn even more about the economic value of outdoor pursuits like canoeing, hunting, RVing, and snowboarding.


An enhanced set of statistics measuring the impact of outdoor recreation industries and activities on the U.S. economy is scheduled to be released Sept. 20. These new statistics incorporate feedback from BEA’s data users and other stakeholders.

The new statistics will provide more detailed breakouts about specific activities and more data to analyze the outdoor recreation economy compared with the outdoor recreation statistics that the Bureau of Economic Analysis released for the first time on Feb. 14.

Specifically, data on gross output, a measure of sales or receipts, on outdoor activities will now be available for 48 items, versus 35 made available in February. For instance, users will get statistical breakouts for air and land guided tours/outfitted travel as well as water guided tours/outfitted travel, including boating and fishing charters.  Check out the updated table of outdoor activities here.  In the February release, statistics were available only for the broad category of guided tours/outfitted travel.

The upcoming outdoor rec statistics also will offer users a way to better discern the performance of this part of the economy by removing the effect of price changes. Users will get 20 sets of tables – 15 more than what was made available in February.  These new tables provide “real,” or inflation adjusted statistics, for gross output as well as for value added – the economic value generated by outdoor rec industries.  Other new tables will provide users price indexes and growth rates for inflation-adjusted gross output and value added statistics. In February, only current dollar values and growth rates were available.

In another improvement, the soon-to-be released statistics will be based on refined methodology. For instance, the new statistics will capture all outdoor recreation trips – regardless of how close to home they are. In February, local trips and travel were counted only if they occurred at least 50 miles away from home.

The enhanced statistics will be contained in a news release and in data tables posted on BEA’s website at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. As with the initial set of statistics, the period covered will be 2012-2016 and will show how outdoor pursuits like snowboarding, boating and RVing ripple through the U.S. economy. Information about the outdoor recreation statistics, what they do and don’t include, and how they are measured are available on BEA’s website.