Governor Jay Inslee touts, “This report shows the enormous value that outdoor recreation brings to Washington’s economy. I hope that the people of our state continue to explore our state’s parks, forests and waterways with appropriate precautions taken to ensure the health and safety of participants and those who work in outdoor recreation. This is an important aspect of our state’s economy and will continue to be as we take steps to safely re-open.”
The report, Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State, found that residents and tourists spend $18.8 billion annually on outdoor recreation trips, including trips to local, state and national parks. In addition, they spend $7.7 billion annually on outdoor recreation gear, equipment and repair services. Download Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State (PDF)
Executive Summary: In a state where aerospace, information technology, and agriculture reign supreme, there is one industry giant looming in the background; a presence felt by all. Washington State’s outdoor recreation economy is one of the most extensive industries in the state, from Neah Bay on the Olympic Peninsula to the Snake River in eastern Washington, and everywhere in between, the outdoor recreation industry is found. Building off an analysis conducted in 2015, this report estimates that outdoor recreation in Washington supports $26.5 billion in annual expenditures. This spending is largely a result of spending by residents and tourists on outdoor recreation trips, including trips to local parks, state parks, national forests and parks, fishing, and boating, and on outdoor recreation gear. Trip-related spending in Washington is estimated to be $18.8 billion. This analysis also finds strong consumer spending on outdoor recreation gear, equipment, and repair services is estimated to be an additional $7.7 billion. This spending goes on to support 264,000 jobs throughout Washington. This means that for every $1 million spent on outdoor recreation, 10 jobs are supported. Outdoor recreation is such a strong job supporter in Washington that 1 in 17 or 6 percent of all jobs in Washington are tied to spending on outdoor recreation. The average labor income associated with these jobs was $44,000 per year. This totaled to nearly $12 billion in wages for Washington workers. Additionally, when this estimate is compared to the 200,000 jobs estimated in the 2015 report, the industry has shown strong growth. This places outdoor recreation on par with Washington’s aerospace industry in Washington (237,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2017 ).
This study was first published in 2015 and has been updated with the current 2020 numbers. See the past study and other information on our Washington Outdoor Business Alliance Impact page.
As Executive Director of Recreation Northwest, Todd Elsworth promotes outdoor recreation and brings community together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. His decades of extensive event production, marketing and writing experience propel this passion. You might bump into him and his daughter Violet while they’re biking, hiking, paddling or skiing in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.