VOBA Fourth Annual Meeting, Full Board, Photo Credit: Katie Palatucci
Vermont Business Magazine As Vermont residents get the first snowflakes of the season, new national and state data shows that Vermont, a key hub of the state’s economy, continues to lead the nation in outdoor recreation.
On November 9, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) released data on the economic impact of outdoor recreation in 2021. As the state continues to recover from the pandemic, the report shows that the Spending in Vermont from activities such as snow sports, camping, hiking, boating and biking continues to increase exponentially.
Nationally, outdoor recreation accounted for $862 billion in consumer spending and $1.53 billion in Vermont’s spending. Vermont’s outdoor recreation contribution to state gross domestic product (GDP) increased from 3.7% in 2020 to 4.1% in 2021, maintaining Vermont’s third-highest ranking in the state behind HI and MT.
Skiing, snowboarding and other snow activities resulted in $215 million in spending in Vermont in 2021, up from $191 million in 2020. Conventional activities (defined by BEA as traditional outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, boating and hunting) also increased to US$593 million in 2021 from US$505 million in 2020.
“The numbers, showing retail sales growing from $268 million in 2020 to $310 million in 2021, along with an increase in production, validate what Vermont’s outdoor retailers and brands are doing experienced during the season. As businesses did better, they hired more workers, as data shows Vermont’s outdoor workforce grew 17.6% in 2021, giving Vermont the largest increase in the New England region,” said Mike Schmidt , Vice Chairman of VOBA and Co-Principal of Speed Sales and Marketing.
“For the second straight year, Vermont had well over 1 million visitors to state parks and record-breaking participation in outdoor recreation. The attendance numbers validate the state’s recent historic investments in outdoor recreation, which include over $25 million committed by Gov. Scott to fund outdoor recreation,” said Michael Snyder, chair of the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) and Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.
Michelle Ramirez, Marketing Manager at Bolton Valley Ski Resort, said: “These metrics follow trends we have seen on the Bolton Valley slopes. Recognizing the barriers faced by those historically excluded from outdoor recreation is the foundation of our inclusion efforts, which has led us to work with local BIPOC groups to reduce equipment and elevator access costs. Creating safe spaces for underrepresented communities is central to Bolton.”
On November 10, one hundred Vermont outdoor companies gathered at HULA in Burlington for VOBA’s fourth annual Outdoor Economy Sessions to validate the far-reaching impact of BEA data by representing the highly diversified sector statewide. Outdoor industry leaders from manufacturing, retail, resorts, media and marketing, and education envisioned a future for outdoor recreation by engaging in strategic discussions on business development, workforce and marketing, and approaches to equity, equity, Diversity and inclusion and leisure infrastructure involved.
“This week’s report and event show that Vermont’s future is filled with opportunity for outdoor places, people, products and jobs. A strong outdoor sector helps our urban and rural communities thrive and work toward equitable access to healthy landscapes and recreational communities in the Green Mountains,” said Kelly Ault, Executive Director of VOBA.
“The growth in participation includes those new to nature and from historically underrepresented populations. Communities across Vermont are looking for new and better ways to provide outdoor recreational experiences that support tourism, incentivize outdoor resource stewardship and provide residents with better overall health and well-being,” said Jackie Dagger, Director by VOREC.
The Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance (VOBA) is a nonprofit business organization that connects, educates, collaborates, and supports businesses, organizations, and individuals working to strengthen, expand, attract, and retain Vermont’s outdoor recreation industry businesses.
VOBA’s mission is to educate Vermonters about outdoor recreation and to educate Vermont outdoor recreation businesses about business development initiatives, outdoor recreation economics and equity, equity, diversity and inclusion. VOBA’s areas of focus for 2022 include finance, workforce development, infrastructure and industry branding.
The Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) is a network of public/private partners organized by the state to maintain, expand and advance the development of Vermont’s outdoor recreation sector by leveraging natural outdoor recreation resources, brands and culture will.
VOREC’s five organizing principles are to grow businesses related to outdoor recreation; increasing participation in outdoor leisure activities among all population groups; strengthening the quality and scope of outdoor recreational resources; improving management of outdoor recreational resources and environmental quality; and promote and enjoy the health and wellness benefits of outdoor recreation.
Montpelier, VT (November 14, 2022) – VOBA