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According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, a Boulder, Colo.-based trade group, 45 million Americans go camping.
The Rocky Mountain News reported that from birdwatchers to mountain bikers, the active set accounts for almost $300 billion in annual retail sales and contributes more than twice that to the U.S. economy, according to a Boulder-based trade group.
Outdoor recreationists shell out $46 billion a year on the gear they need to hit the woods, the rivers and the slopes, according to a recent report by the Outdoor Industry Foundation. But they spend five times that much ($243 billion) on all the extras – food, lodging, entertainment and transportation.
“We’ve always known we have a larger economic impact – now we have the data to support it,” said Kim Coupounas, board chairman of the Outdoor Industry Association and co-founder and CEO of GoLite, a Boulder-based apparel and gear maker.
The study does more than measure retail sales. It also tracks the “ripple effects” of the spending. In all, it estimates active outdoor recreation pumps $730 billion annually into the U.S. economy.
Among other findings:
• The industry supports about 6.5 million jobs.
• Annual tax revenues add up to $88 billion a year.
The trade group hopes the fresh statistics, the most comprehensive report it has commissioned, will help it make a stronger case for protecting the wilds from development, oil drilling and the like.
“The purpose is really to show the economic importance of outdoor recreation – we’re a force,” said Clint Wall, research director for the outdoor industry group. “That might change the dynamic in Washington.”
Wall said the group wanted to take a “conservative” approach to defining the sector’s economic impact. It left out sales of some vehicles, boats and other big-ticket items such as second homes and cabins.
The study showed three-quarters of Americans take part in outdoor recreation.