Growth of Wyoming’s outdoor recreation industry has helped boost economy, state agency director says

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Wyoming’s outdoor recreation industry has played a role in keeping the state’s economy afloat during the pandemic, recent industry data shows.

A report by the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis showed that as the economy collapsed in 2020, the overall contribution of the outdoor industry to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) declined slightly, but many sectors of the industry have grown.

“It helped us, and that was enough on its own to offset the general economic downturn that we saw, but it did help straighten things out a bit – it was a mitigating factor if you will,” said Chris Floyd. , director of the Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation. The Place du Center.

As a percentage of GDP, the industry grew from 4.2% to 3.4% of the total, or from $ 1.69 billion in 2019 to $ 1.25 billion in 2020, according to the Wyoming Activity Report.

According to Floyd, the sectors that have increased the most are boating, fishing and off-road vehicle (ORV) use, followed by camping, mountain biking and hiking. The bureau’s report puts the impact of boating and fishing growth at 79%, according to the Wyoming Business Report.

Purchases of outdoor recreation equipment also skyrocketed last year, Floyd pointed out, meaning that barriers to access for these people have fallen, so they are likely to continue to rise. use a higher utilization rate.

One of the biggest lessons learned from the pandemic, according to Floyd, is that people enjoy the outdoors, especially when the country is in crisis.

“We certainly saw it during the Great Depression, and that’s when there was a huge construction of our recreation infrastructure in the country,” he said. .

He noted that the effect was magnified during the pandemic, as the outdoors also seemed to become the safest place to go.

He added, however, that although this time around they have learned that Wyoming’s outdoor recreation infrastructure falls short.

“In terms of capacity, in terms of resilience with increased use, in terms of the ability to operate and maintain these spaces – all of those things have been called into question during the pandemic,” Floyd said.

Floyd said he was eager to see how funding from chains like the Great America Outdoors Act and the American Rescue Plan Act would help address these challenges and grow infrastructure.

“The trend towards greater visitor use on public lands and recreation is just going to continue to increase over time as the population increases – even just at this baseline – so we need to get our hands on all of it. best management practices and all the investments we will need to maintain a high level of utilization, ”he said.

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