Outdoor industry trade group: Sector a big economic driver

Outdoor recreation constitutes an important component of the Colorado economy, according to an analysis conducted by a trade association for the outdoor industry.

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) estimates that people spend about $13.2 billion annually on outdoor recreational activities in Colorado. That level of spending supports nearly 125,000 jobs that generate a total of 4.2 billion in wages as well as produces almost $1 billion in state and local tax revenues.

The OIA represents a total of more than 4,000 manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers of outdoor equipment, apparel and services. The association recently released a report quantifying the economic effects of outdoor recreation in all 50 states, including jobs, wages and tax revenues.

The state-by-state figures expand on a national report published in June that estimated that nearly 140 million Americans participate in outdoor activities and spend $646 billion on those activities each year, supporting 6.1 million jobs and generating nearly $80 billion in tax revenues.

“Outdoor recreation is a growing American industry that produces significant economic benefits,” said Will Manzer, chairman of the OIA Board of Directors and a former chief executive officer of Eastern Mountain Sports.

“For example, Americans spend almost twice as much on outdoor recreation as they spend on pharmaceuticals each year. And outdoor recreation supports more than twice as many jobs as the oil and gas industry,” Manzer said.

Frank Hugelmeyer, president and chief executive officer of the OIA, said public lands and waters should be managed to sustain the industry. “When we invest in the nation’s network of public lands and waters, we are protecting and enhancing outdoor experiences for the benefit of thousands of businesses, communities and families whose livelihoods depend on the outdoor recreation economy.”