The outdoor recreation industry in the United States has reached unprecedented heights, with Idaho emerging as one of the key players in this economic success story.
In 2022, the industry’s nationwide economic output soared to $1.1 trillion, marking a historic milestone. This growth is not just a national trend but is significantly impacting states like Idaho, known for their rich outdoor landscapes and recreational opportunities.
In Idaho, the industry’s contribution was substantial, bringing in $3.4 billion. This figure represents 3.1% of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), placing Idaho among the top states where outdoor recreation is a major economic driver. The state’s diverse range of outdoor activities, from camping to boating, plays a crucial role in this economic achievement.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’s recent data release highlights the expanding scope of the outdoor recreation industry. It includes a variety of activities such as camping, recreational vehicles, gardening, and amusement parks. This diversity is a key factor in the industry’s robust growth and resilience.
In Idaho, RVing stands out as the most lucrative sector within the outdoor recreation industry. It contributed nearly half a billion dollars to the state’s economy. This figure underscores the popularity and economic importance of RVing in Idaho, reflecting a nationwide trend where RVing remains a top revenue generator.
Boating and fishing also hold significant economic weight in Idaho’s outdoor recreation landscape. These activities brought in nearly $200 million, following closely behind hunting, shooting, and trapping, which contributed $217 million. These numbers not only reflect the economic value of these activities but also highlight the varied interests of outdoor enthusiasts in the state.
Since 2017, when the Bureau of Economic Analysis began measuring the economic impacts of outdoor recreation, Idaho has seen consistent growth in this sector. Last year marked a record revenue year for a range of activities, including camping, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and even local trips defined as travel under 50 miles from home. This growth trajectory indicates a robust and expanding outdoor recreation industry in Idaho.
The employment landscape in Idaho’s outdoor recreation sector also witnessed positive changes. The industry added approximately 3,000 jobs over the previous year, bringing the total to around 35,000. This increase in employment opportunities is a testament to the industry’s vitality and its role as a significant employer in the state.
The recovery of Idaho’s outdoor recreation industry from the setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 is noteworthy. While the pandemic initially led to revenue losses, it also coincided with a surge in outdoor activities. This resurgence is evident in the nearly one million people who participated in outdoor activities in Idaho last year, as reported by the Outdoor Industry Association.
The economic and social impacts of the outdoor recreation industry in Idaho are multifaceted. Beyond the impressive financial figures, the industry plays a vital role in promoting health, wellness, and a connection with nature. It also contributes to the preservation and appreciation of Idaho’s natural landscapes, which are central to the state’s identity and appeal.
As the outdoor recreation industry continues to grow, Idaho stands as a prime example of how natural resources, when coupled with strategic development and promotion, can lead to significant economic and social benefits.