A new report confirms Colorado’s outdoor industry as a sustained force in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Skiing, hiking, biking, camping, fishing, hunting, off-road driving and other forms of recreation generated $11.6 billion in economic activity in the state last year, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That was up from $9.6 billion in 2020, when the pandemic was transforming tourism and travel.
The industry’s recovery accounted for 2.7% of the state’s total gross domestic product, the government agency reported. The study found that outdoor recreation accounted for 125,244 jobs, or 4.3% of the state’s total employment.
The study “exemplifies what we know to be true in Colorado: This industry is a tremendous economic driver and a significant source of jobs,” Conor Hall, director of the state’s Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, said in a statement. “The data clearly reflects the growth of this industry since 2020 and we must continue our work to support the industry, the stewardship of our natural resources and equitable access to nature.”
The ski and snow sector remains the largest driver of state industry, contributing nearly $1.27 million to the economy. This sector showed growth in 2019 and 2020, as did every sector in the report.
The next largest sector was RV transportation, which added $474,678 in value in 2020, an increase of almost 17% over 2020. In a press release, RV Industry Association President and CEO Craig Kirby spoke of “a record number of younger and more diverse customers” who want to “fulfill their desire to go outside”.
In the Colorado report, this desire is also supported by growth in climbing/hiking/tent camping (up 27% year-on-year), horseback riding (up 12%), hunting/shooting (up 12%), bicycling (up 11%). ) and motorcycle/ATV (up 9%).
The fifth year of the Bureau of Economic Analysis report found that the country’s outdoor industry will pump about $862 billion into the economy and provide 4.5 million jobs in 2021. That benefit increased from $845 billion in 2019 to $689 billion in 2020.
In a press release, sales representative Outdoor Recreation Roundtable noted that the industry is a larger economic contributor than agriculture and oil and gas exploration.
“From creating jobs and increasing profits for small businesses in the local economy, to greater blessings for our national economy, this sector is a constant engine, even during times of economic uncertainty,” said the organization’s president, Jessica Turner.