Washington, D.C. – Outdoor recreation and its impact on the American economy took center stage at the U.S. Department of Commerce on July 27. Members of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR) met with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other administration officials to discuss outdoor recreation’s importance to the American economy, how increased partnerships can grow jobs, and how trade agreements impact the outdoor recreation industry.
Outdoor recreation is vital to the economic and healthful well-being of America.The industry generates $887 billion in direct spending and supports 7.6 million jobs across all 50 states. Ninety-nine percent of RVs and 95 percent of boats sold in the United States are made in America. Many of the jobs supported by the industry are in rural communities and small businesses, making outdoor recreation an essential part of American life.
ORIR urged that the new Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account – created as part of the recently enacted Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (Outdoor REC) Act and managed by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis – be expedited and measure all outdoor recreation economic activity, not just the economic impact of recreation on federal lands and waters. ORIR offered to provide expertise, data and more to assist in the development of ORSA and urged that it then be used to influence public sector budget and policy decisions.
Additionally, ORIR members highlighted the economic importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the outdoor recreation industry, noting key trade partnerships with Canada and Mexico and recommending that the overall framework of NAFTA be retained but important “harmonizing” provisions be added.
Millions of international and domestic tourists visit America’s public lands and waters each year, spending money at local businesses that provide lodging, dining, retail and outdoor recreation experiences. Increasing international and domestic visitation to federal lands and waters and surrounding towns can help stimulate the economy and create jobs in both urban and rural America. Partnerships between the outdoor recreation industry and the Department of Commerce can help ensure that America’s Great Outdoors welcomes visitors – new and returning alike – for years to come.
The Secretary showed interest when ORIR explained the importance of delivering the benefits of international tourism to all 50 states with the proven and growing allure of parks and other special places and was encouraged to change the focus of marine sanctuaries and marine fisheries policies to support recreational enjoyment.
ORIR told Secretary Ross that it seeks to partners with the Department of Commerce to keep America’s recreation economy strong by ensuring that the American people and their international guests have access to healthy, active outdoor fun on their public lands and waters and outlined assets ranging from major communications channels to trade shows to fresh ideas.
To see ORIR's presentation to Secretary Ross, click here.