The Financial Affect of the Nice Outdoor


The Economic Impact of the Great Outdoors – Diagrams

June 2022

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June is National Great Outdoors Month. As New Yorkers prepare for summer vacation and celebrate the Fourth of July weekend, many plan to go swimming, camping, hiking, hunting or fishing, visiting amusement parks, attending outdoor festivals and concerts, or spending time gardening or stargazing. All forms of outdoor recreation in New York generated $21.1 billion in economic activity and supported over 241,000 jobs with $13.1 billion in compensation in 2020. While New York ranks fourth in the nation in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) generated by outdoor recreation, in almost every other state, outdoor recreation represents a more significant part of the economy As the pandemic continues to recover and evolve, policymakers can explore ways to increase access to recreational opportunities, attract visitors, and preserve the environments they depend on.

Outdoor recreation in New York

New York has an abundance of natural treasures, from Niagara Falls to the Adirondacks and Catskill Mountains, from the Finger Lakes to the beaches and shores of Long Island. According to the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, New York is home to 250 state parks and historic sites covering 350,000 acres and offers hiking trails, boat ramps and campgrounds, as well as beaches, pools and golf courses. There are also more than 6.7 million acres of public and private land in Adirondack Park and Catskill Park, as well as numerous federal recreational facilities throughout the state.

The economic impact of outdoor recreation reflects the purchase of direct goods and services related to outdoor activities, including gear and equipment, fuel to operate recreational vehicles, maintenance and repair services, concessions, entrance or tour fees, and tuition. It also includes goods and services that support access to outdoor recreation, such as B. Transportation to the recreational activity, room and board, and government expenditures for national and state parks (e.g., expenditure on maintaining hiking or snowmobile trails). .1

In 2020, outdoor recreation generated nearly $332 billion in economic activity nationwide, 1.8 percent of GDP. Outdoor recreation accounted for the largest share of state GDP in Montana at 4.3 percent.2 In contrast, Connecticut and New York ranked last with only 1.2 percent of state GDP from outdoor recreation. In the years leading up to the pandemic, outdoor recreation’s share of total state GDP was higher (1.5 percent on average), but New York ranked 49th, only higher than Connecticut.

In terms of actual generated GDP, New York ranked fourth, with outdoor recreation generating $21.1 billion in economic activity in 2020 and supporting over 241,000 jobs with $13.1 billion in compensation. Jobs span numerous industries, but 38.7 percent are concentrated in arts, entertainment and recreation, and lodging and hospitality services. The share of the economic impact of outdoor recreation is almost evenly split between the activities themselves and those that support them, as shown in Figure 1. Other activities, which include festivals and outdoor concerts, sporting events, amusement parks and golf courses account for 18 percent. Traditional activities such as camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, biking, and skiing, as well as RV driving, motorcycling, windsurfing, and scuba diving account for a third of the total. Such activities play an important role in the local economy in many rural parts of New York, as well as in some Long Island communities, as documented in a previous Office of the State Comptroller report.3

FIGURE 1 – New York outdoor recreation by category, 2020

New York is in the top 10 for certain outdoor activities. For example, it took second place in festivals, concerts and sporting events; 3. for camping and hiking; and fourth for boating/fishing and amusement parks. (See Figure 2.) Additionally, New York ranked third for manufacturing multipurpose accessories and apparel that can be used for outdoor recreation. Clothing and accessories are the largest contributors to outdoor leisure GDP in New York.4

FIGURE 2 – Top outdoor recreation activities in New York, 2020

Economic activity (millions) national rank
Boating/Fishing $1,486.4 4
Festivals/concerts/sporting events $955.1 2
Camper $559.3 8th
camping and hiking $206.7 3
amusement parks $202.4 4
activities in the snow $135.5 9

effects of the pandemic

Like other sectors of the economy, outdoor recreation has been hit by the pandemic, with economic activity falling 21.5 percent in 2020. As shown in Figure 3, other outdoor activities, which typically involve large groups of people, were hardest hit, down 36 percent. Festivals, sporting events and concerts, which account for the highest share in this category, fell by over 53 percent.

Similarly, the supporting activities category saw a 24 percent drop as the leisure and hospitality industries suffered some of the biggest losses from the pandemic and those services, as well as transportation services, which account for nearly two-thirds of related GDP in New York in 2020.

For the conventional outdoor activities category, the impact of the pandemic was much smaller, 4.7 percent lower than in 2019. In fact, some of the activities in this category made gains, especially those that catered more to individuals than to large groups , particularly boating and fishing, which grew nearly 31 percent. Other activities with growth included other water activities (such as scuba diving, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and surfing), bicycling (both bicycles and motorcycles), RVs, and camping and hiking. Snow activities (skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and sledding) experienced a decline.

FIGURE 3 – Change in economic activity by category, 2016-2020


With its diverse geography, stadiums, amphitheaters and athletic venues, New York is an attractive place for a variety of outdoor recreation. Despite being a small part of the state’s economy, outdoor recreation supports numerous jobs and the rewards that come with them. Efforts to promote tourism and protect nature are important to boost economic activity and improve access to and use of these facilities.

Prior to the pandemic, New York had over 264 million visitors spending nearly $74 billion.5 While the pandemic caused both visitor and tourism spending to decline, it also prompted a shift toward conventional outdoor recreation; These activities were less restricted and perceived as safer than indoor activities and gatherings during the pandemic. Empire State Development reported that New York’s abundance of outdoor recreation is one reason respondents continued to view the state as a vacation destination in SFY 2020-21. When the economy reopened and travel restrictions were lifted in 2021, New York’s real GDP from tourism-related industries (arts, entertainment and recreation, and lodging and dining services) grew by over 18 percent, but only marginally exceeded two percent. One-third of 2019 levels. Efforts to attract visitors by highlighting the state’s diverse outdoor recreation opportunities should be increased.