Outdoor recreation thriving in Wyoming

JACKSON, Wyo. — A recent report from the federal government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) indicates Wyoming’s outdoor recreation industry is among the best in the nation in contributing to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

For the first time, the BEA has added outdoor recreation to their annual Economic Analysis and what they found is that it is a major driver of the nation’s and Wyoming’s economy and employment. Outdoor recreation in Wyoming contributes $1.6 billion to Wyoming’s economy or 4.4 percent of the state’s overall economy.

States ranking ahead of Wyoming are Hawaii at 5.4%, Montana at 5.1%, and Maine at 4.8%. Other states include Florida at 4.3%, and Colorado and Utah tied at 3.3%.

“To us in the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office and the Wyoming Division of State Parks and Historic Sites, this data doesn’t come as a surprise to us as we’re constantly meeting and working with those in the outdoor recreation industry,” said Administrator Dave Glenn. “What this data does tell us is that we have a vibrant and growing outdoor recreation economy and this is the tip of the iceberg.”

The news is even better in regards to employment. Outdoor Recreation accounts for 23,036 jobs, or 8% of total employment in Wyoming, which is the highest in the nation. Those jobs also account for 4.7 percent of total compensation in the state, which is second in the nation behind Hawaii at 5.1 percent.

“Outdoor Recreation is pivotal to residents and visitors alike,” Gov. Mark Gordon said. “Many people visit, move and bring their businesses here to take advantage of the outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities available in Wyoming.”

The Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office is working to expand those employment numbers even more through its support of the Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management Program at the University of Wyoming and the Outdoor Education and Recreation Leadership degree at Northwest College in Powell.

Locally, the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office works to improve recreation economies by facilitating community stakeholder discussions and making sure communities are aware of resources and opportunities to improve amenities and attract business based on local assets.

“Wyoming has done a phenomenal job leveraging our resources underground,” Glenn said. “Now we’re going to build a thriving OR industry by leveraging our resources above the ground. We have more work to do”

The BEA study also indicates that the Outdoor Recreation Industry is growing rapidly nationwide, eclipsing the average increase in overall U.S. GDP. Overall, Outdoor Recreation grew by 3.9% in 2017 compared to the overall U.S. economy which grew by 2.4%.

“This study confirms what we’ve known for a long time,” State Parks and Cultural Resources Director Darin Westby said. “Wyoming is a great place to work and play and we’ve been expanding those opportunities throughout the state for quite some time.”

Nationally, according to the report, economic leaders in gross economic output are boating/fishing, RVing, motorcycling/ATVing, hunting/shooting/trapping, and equestrian sports. Snow sports rank as a close sixth on the list. These are all highly popular activities in the Cowboy State.

The full Bureau of Economic Analysis report on Outdoor Recreation can be found here.

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