It’s no surprise that the industries that produce the most goods or services and keep the economy humming often receive favorable attention from legislators in Washington. Now with the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) February announcement that the outdoor recreation industry’s 2016 annual gross output is 2 percent ($373.7 billion) of the US gross domestic product (GDP), Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) believes boaters stand to gain from the news.
“Having a strong industry behind you is important when working in the halls of government,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. “It can ultimately influence legislation that makes boating better, such as improving boating access by funding new launch ramps, providing budgets to maintain boating infrastructure or navigation aids, improving fishing habitat, and helping support boating safety efforts.”
The analysis was a result of passage of the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016, which required the Department of Commerce, acting through the BEA, to enter into a joint memorandum with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior to conduct, assess and analyze the outdoor recreation economy of the United States and its effects on the overall US economy.
The outdoor industry grew 3.8 percent in 2016, compared to 2.8 percent for the overall economy. Boating and fishing activities totaled $38.2 billion, an increase of 4 percent over 2015. The BEA report also noted that the outdoor recreation industry, which includes boating, fishing, RVing, hunting, camping, hiking, bicycling and supporting activities, surpassed the US agriculture and petroleum industries.
BoatUS remains part of a coalition of outdoor groups, organizations and businesses under the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable that urged the federal government to recognize the industry’s economic importance. The “prototype” statistics covering 2012 to 2016 from the newly established Department of Commerce Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account allow the public to comment before the BEA releases the final statistics this fall. The full report can be found at: https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/industry/orsa/orsanewsrelease.htm.
The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable advocates for bipartisan support for improved access to public lands and waters, increasing public-private partnerships to help modernize infrastructure and reduce decades-old maintenance backlogs that can provide a better visitor experience, support for responsible conservation efforts, and growth of outdoor recreation participation.