The outdoor recreation industry continued to thrive in 2021 as a strong economic driver across the state and in Wyoming, which accounts for $1.5 billion, or 3.6% of the state’s GDP, according to the latest report from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis .
Total value added from outdoor recreation increased from $1.2 billion, or 3.4%, in 2020, representing an overall increase in state GDP of $3 million, or 0.2%, from 2020-2021. In 2021, Wyoming ranked 6th in additional growth. Since 2020, outdoor recreation value has increased 28.6% in Wyoming compared to a 24.7% increase in the United States.
Employment in the sector also rose from 14,187 to 15,285 jobs, which is 5.4%. of total government employment. Since 2020, outdoor recreation employment in Wyoming has increased by 18.4% compared to a 13.1% increase in the United States.
“I think what we’re seeing is the inherent value that the outdoor recreation economy has in a state like Wyoming,” said Patrick Harrington, manager of the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office. “persons across the state are looking to this industry as a vehicle for economic diversification and vitality for our local and state economies.”
In 2020, Wyoming’s great outdoors saw unprecedented visitor numbers across the state, and those high numbers continued into 2021. Both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks celebrated record numbers and hosted a combo 8,745,787 recreational visits. Wyoming State Parks and Historic Sites hosted a total of 5,755,184 visitors in 2021, down 2% from 2020 but 25% above the five-year average.
With record attendance, many outdoor leisure activities also saw significant growth in 2021, with some exceeding pre-pandemic value. Snow activities saw an increase in value creation of $108,258, climbing from 13th to 12th in value creation. RV, motorcycle and ATV rides, rock climbing, equestrian, biking and recreational flying also saw steady gains across the board, collectively contributing $166,423 in value added, or an increase of 11%.
In response to increasing visitor numbers and demand for new outdoor recreation opportunities and infrastructure statewide, Wyoming Outdoor Recreation has continued efforts to promote, enhance, and expand responsible outdoor recreation in Wyoming through a variety of projects, programs, and partnerships at local, state and national levels.
“The work we do to bring millions of visitors around the world to experience Wyoming’s beauty and outdoor experiences would not be possible without our partnership with the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office,” said Diane Shober, executive director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism. “Your team continues to offer exceptional cultural and leisure opportunities that keep visitors longer and, overall, bring them back for years to come.”
In 2021, Wyoming Outdoor Recreation expanded its existing outdoor recreation collaborations by launching 5 new initiatives for a total of 7 statewide. These initiatives bring together local community members, recreational stakeholders, businesses, conservation groups, federal and state agencies, and elected officials to identify and prioritize opportunities for growing and improving outdoor recreation in their area.
“In this collaborative process, it has been paramount to include and leverage the perspectives and needs of the local communities and their members to ensure these projects and improvements have positive, lasting impact and achieve the desired growth,” explains Darin Westby, Director of Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources.
As participation in outdoor activities continues to increase, strategic economic development will be crucial Improving the public space experience and reducing overcrowding. New funding opportunities, investment in local recreation and ensuring that popular travel destinations have adequate infrastructure will help ease the pressure and Protection of local recreation.
On July 1, 2022, Wyoming Outdoor Recreation announced the launch of Wyoming’s first Outdoor Recreation Grant Program, which will fund public outdoor recreation projects statewide. The program received nearly $72 million in applications for $14 million in available funds.
These projects and initiatives are part of the Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation’s broader efforts to diversify Wyoming’s economy and create a positive quality of life and economic impact on local communities.
For more information about Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, visit wyorec.com. You can also view the full BEA report at https://www.bea.gov/data/special-topics/outdoor-recreation or click here.