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Increase in Outdoor Rec Participation Helped Boost Michigan’s Economy

With its abundance of public land, water, trails, and other possibilities for outdoor recreation, Michigan is among the best states in the country in terms of the amount of outdoor activities’ contribution to the economy. 

As per a report, this includes the no. 5 spot for the economic value of boating, no. 6 for the use of recreational vehicles, and no. 8 for hunting/shooting/trapping.

These figures are based on 2020 data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Unprecedented amounts of people have been enjoying Michigan’s natural resources since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as outdoor recreation is experiencing significant growth.

The annual Michigan visitation to state parks increased to 35 million from 28 million when the outbreak started. The number of visitors increased an additional 25 to 30 percent during the summer of 2021. The number of individuals buying hunting and fishing licenses also increased by about ten percent and five percent from license year 2019 to 2020. Trail use for off-road vehicles increased by 20 percent between 2019 and 2020 and increased by 13 percent in 2021.

The pandemic led people to realize the mental and physical benefits of outdoor activities. The communities throughout the state have long acknowledged that in addition to promoting healthier lifestyles, outdoor rec can improve the quality of life. It also draws and sustains families and employers.

Outdoor recreation is also vital to Michigan’s economy, generating annually $9.5 billion of economic value, 108,673 job opportunities, and $4.6 billion in salaries and wages, as per 2020 BEA data.

In recognition of the crucial and growing role that outdoor recreation—as well as the business created around it—play in the state, Governor Gretchen Whitmer created the Michigan Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry in 2019 to grow the economy of outdoor recreation in the state, by supporting and expanding existing outdoor businesses as well as attracting new outdoor rec businesses.

Through the establishment of the office, Michigan became part of a growing group of states. The current number is 13 states, but expanding rapidly. That is focused on forming new partnerships with and for the private sector outdoor recreation industry.

Brad Garmon was appointed director of the Michigan Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry in September 2019.

Outdoor recreation is really booming right now, but when you approach outdoor recreation as an identifiable industry like we do the auto industry or the oil and gas industry, it’s very apparent that outdoor recreation is huge and also really complicated,” He said.

Michigan became the first, and thus far the only Great Lakes state to join the “Confluence of States” pact that recognizes the outdoor recreation industry to be “a powerhouse of meaningful job creation, and a driving force of our nation’s economy” and as “an economic multiplier, creating a unique quality of life in rural and urban areas, attracting new businesses and professional talent to our communities.”

Looking ahead, the Michigan Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry will continue to form connections and help the outdoor industry navigate changes.

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February 19, 2024 8:51 pm

The upswing in outdoor recreation in Michigan offers exciting activities. The Michigan Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry supports innovative businesses.

March 23, 2024 1:38 am

Isn’t it great to see Michigan really going all out to make outdoor fun a big deal? It warms my heart to see how this boost in outdoor activities is not just about having fun but also about creating more jobs and keeping the environment inclusive for everyone. Cool stuff!


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Increase in Outdoor Rec Participation Helped Boost Michigan’s Economy! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/michigan/increase-in-outdoor-rec-participation-helped-boost-michigans-economy/