#KernBlog: Look at the Economic Impact of Outdoor Recreation

July 2020 – Outdoor recreation is a thriving industry, and growing larger every year.  According to a recent report by the Outdoor Industry Association, “The Outdoor Recreation Economy,” outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in consumer spending annually.  This includes outdoor products ($184.5 billion) and trip and travel spending ($702.3 billion).  Outdoor recreation is a powerful economic engine that is “among our nation’s largest economic sectors, representing the lifeblood of thousands of American communities and providing livelihoods for millions of American workers.”  Hiking is obviously a part of this economy. 

Google says there are 47.9 million people in America who call themselves hikers.  The Outdoor Industry Foundation says there are 44.9 million people who hike an average of 14 times a year.  This cohort contributes to the $184.5 billion in annual consumer spending on recreation products such as gear, apparel, footwear, and equipment.  Hikers also spend money on airfare, fuel, lodging, groceries, and more in pursuing their passion, contributing to the $702.3 billion for trip and travel annual spending.  The OIA further says that this $887 billion directly supports 7.6 million American jobs and generates a combined total of $125 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue.

Hiking also promotes enormous physical and mental benefits resulting in safe and healthier communities.  Well-established research shows that investing in outdoor recreation reduces crime, improves education results, strengthens social bonds with family and friends, and lowers health care costs by reducing stress and obesity rates while improving physical fitness.  All of the above reinforces Hiking Trails for America’s efforts to close the gaps in our National Scenic Trails.  Access to continuous and safe hiking corridors ensures that hikers of all levels have the opportunity to experience and enjoy the nation’s outdoor resources as envisioned by the National Trails System Act of 1968. 

Please support Hiking Trails for America’s campaign to close the gaps of the National Scenic Trails by signing our Petition.

Jim Kern autographing his book Trail Reflections at the 2015 Outdoor Retailer Show

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