As far as recreational outdoor activities go, motorcycling is high up there. 

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Motorcycling, ATV riding, and side-by-side driving are among the country’s five largest traditional or conventional outdoor recreation activities, when ranked by economic output, according to data released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

This was the first time that the BEA provided preliminary data on economic contribution in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, demonstrating how important outdoor recreation is to both local business as well as the nation’s gross domestic product.

And, it’s a growth sector.

According to the BEA release, its Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account “shows that inflation-adjusted (real) GDP for the outdoor recreation economy grew by 3.9 percent in 2017, faster than the 2.4 percent growth of the overall U.S. economy. Real gross output, compensation, and employment all grew faster in outdoor recreation than for the economy as a whole.”

The bureau defines “conventional” outdoor recreation as activities done for pleasure, such as camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing, and involving some physical effort.

The Five Largest Conventional Outdoor Recreation Activities by Economic Output

“We have long known that motorcycling, ATV riding and side-by-side driving are major contributors to the economy, to our country’s GDP, in so many ways,” said Tim Buche, president and CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Council. “We boost local economies, too, and not just through powersports dealers and retailers. Our enthusiasts book hotel stays, pay park fees, buy food, supplies, and other gear they need for all sorts of great outdoor adventures. All of that makes them, and our industry, a powerful economic engine that merits the attention of policymakers and those who manage public lands.”

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is a coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations and the Motorcycle Industry Council, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association are members. Looking at the BEA’s latest report, the ORR noted some additional highlights:

  • Outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2 percent of U.S. GDP, creating $778 billion in gross output supporting 5.2 million jobs.
  • Outdoor recreation is responsible for a larger share of GDP than many major industries, including chemical products manufacturing, farming and ranching, mining, and utilities.

“[The] release of state data is a significant step forward for the entire outdoor recreation industry,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “This second full year of national data – together with prototype state-level numbers – proves that our industry is a driving economic force across the country. ORR will continue to work with Congress, federal agencies, state governments and others to ensure that everyone has access to our public lands and waters and that our nation’s outdoor infrastructure can sustain and grow healthy communities and healthy economies.”

The Motorcycle Industry Council exists to preserve, protect and promote motorcycling through government relations, communications and media relations, statistics and research, aftermarket programs, development of data communications standards, and activities surrounding technical and regulatory issues. As a not-for-profit national industry association, the MIC seeks to support motorcyclists by representing manufacturers, distributors, dealers and retailers of motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, ROVs, motorcycle/ATV/ROV parts, accessories and related goods and services, and members of allied trades such as insurance, finance and investment companies, media companies and consultants.

The MIC is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with a government relations office in metropolitan Washington, D.C. First called the MIC in 1970, the organization has been in operation since 1914. Visit the MIC at mic.org.

The Specialty Vehicle Institute of America® is the not-for-profit national industry association promoting the safe and responsible use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) through rider training, public awareness campaigns, and state legislation. Additionally, SVIA® works to preserve access to off-road riding areas and expand riding opportunities. Accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), SVIA develops standards for the equipment, configuration, and performance requirements of ATVs. Based in Irvine, Calif., SVIA is sponsored by American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; BRP, Inc.; Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.; KYMCO USA, Inc.; Polaris Industries Inc.; Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.; Arctic Cat; and Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. Visit SVIA online at svia.org. For safety information or to enroll in the ATV RiderCoursenearest you, visit atvsafety.org, or call (800) 887-2887.

The Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association is the not-for-profit national industry association promoting the safe and responsible use of ROVs (also called side-by-sides or UTVs). Accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), ROHVA develops standards for the equipment, configuration, and performance requirements of ROVs.

Based in Irvine, Calif., ROHVA is sponsored by American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; BRP, Inc.; Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.; Mahindra North America; Polaris Industries Inc.; Arctic Cat; and Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.. For more information visit rohva.org.

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is America’s premier coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations, made up of 28 members representing over 50,000 American businesses. These organizations represent a sector of the economy that produces $778 billion in economic output, accounts for 2.2 percent of U.S. GDP and supports 5.2 million jobs – all while growing faster than the nation’s economy as a whole.