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News for January 20, 2022

Outdoor Rec Still a Popular Choice in Florida

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Outdoor recreation activities made up around 3% of Florida’s gross domestic product in 2020, which is higher than the less than 2% for the country overall, according to the most recent Bureau of Economic Analysis data about outdoor rec’s economic impact.

The data also dictate that outdoor activities were a favorite choice even until 2021. Despite the pandemic, boating, fishing, RVing, hiking, and wildlife viewing were popular in 2020.

“We do know that places that were open (in 2020) like parks, they experienced tremendous growth that would not be seen in an economic analysis,” Taylor Stein, a professor with the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, told a local report.

“People are still spending money on staycations, and the fact is, when they couldn’t go to Europe they turned to the U.S. and their national and state parks.”

The economic value of traditional outdoor recreation was responsible for more than 37% of the U.S. value-added outdoor experiences in 2020. This was an increase from 30% of the previous year, according to the BEA.

A major reason for this growth was greater spending on boating and fishing, the report added. Florida topped the list with a whopping $3.8 billion in GDP in 2020.

Recreational vehicle travel, also known as RVing, also grew in popularity. It contributed to more than $19 billion in GDP.

The popularity of RVing, along with other activities such as kayaking and wildlife watching, is generating interest in national and state parks—to the point that many people could face a difficult time finding campsites.

In a 2021 survey, the Florida State Parks Foundation, an organization that raises funds to support state parks, observed that 76% of people come to Florida’s state parks to camp. It’s their most-loved recreational activity.

“(State and national parks) realized they’re the safe places, they’re some of the few places (travelers) can get to and be reasonably safe,” he said.

From 2019 to 2020, BEA research revealed that the outdoor recreation industry accounted for more than 4% of the state’s GDP. This is over the more than 2 percent for the U.S. overall.

However, when all value-added outdoor recreation was taken into account, the GDP for 2020 fell significantly from 2019.

This was due to national tourism industry shutdowns which affected outdoor activities that were not part of conventional recreational activities like amusement parks, festivals, and more. While these aren’t normally related to outdoor recreation, the BEA considers them to be an element of the overall economics of outdoor recreation, the local report added.

However, it’s nature-based experiences that mattered, turning into “spaces of refuge” during the toughest times of the pandemic, said Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association.

She also highlighted that over half of Americans older than 6 had some outdoor activity experience in 2020, which is the most participation rate recorded by her group.

Aangeenbrug observed that this trend lasted through 2021. She cited figures that indicated the growth of 20% in the selling of backpacks, tents coolers, and camping gear.

Freedom Week, the Florida tax holiday, was also launched in July last year. State leaders slashed the sales tax on camping gear as well as fishing equipment and kayaks, among other things.

Stein believes that the high level of enthusiasm for outdoor activities will decrease once the pandemic is over, citing research that revealed that many non-traditional users became interested due to the absence of other options.

However, he is motivated by the strong statewide appeal.

“I want them to get outside,” he said. “I want them spending their time outdoors and spending money on it.”

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Modern Campground

Modern Campground

Modern Campground is the most innovative news source in the Outdoor Hospitality industry. We provide global news coverage for RV Park and Campground owners, operators, managers, and their team members.
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