Record growth for fishing and boating in USA

A major economic report has revealed how outdoor recreation helped the US economy during a difficult 2020 – with fishing and boating leading the line.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) report showed outdoor recreation had a powerful and positive economic impact on the US economy, generating $688 billion in economic output, comprises 3three per cent of US employees and creating 4.3 million jobs.

Even more encouraging is the fact that this trend looks set to have been continued during the last year.

Glenn Hughes, president of industry body the American Sportfishing Association and vice-chair of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, explained: “As the BEA numbers indicate, 2020 was an extraordinary year for recreational fishing.

“When the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, people turned to the outdoors like never before. We saw a big uptick in fishing participation from families with children as well a new generation of young anglers. That’s why it is so important that we continue to increase and improve access to our public lands.”
While Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, added: “Covid-19 inspired huge participation growth in 2020, as outdoor spaces became places of refuge to safely socialise, improve physical and mental health, connect with family and recover from screen fatigue.

“In 2020, 53 per cent of Americans aged six and over participated in outdoor recreation at least once, the highest participation rate on record. Remarkably, 7.1 million more Americans participated in outdoor recreation in 2020 than in the year prior.

“Early indications are this trend continued into 2021 and sales data comparing August 2020 to August 2021 show that the sales of tents, backpacks, coolers and camping equipment, trail running shoes, and other outdoor gear are up more than 20 percent year over year.”

And Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), confirmed: “Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for recreational boating has surged, with new, younger, and more diverse consumers driving record sales for our industry.

“Looking ahead, we expect consumer interest and sales to remain strong through 2021 and beyond as Americans continue to discover the benefits and joys of being on the water.”

This is the fourth consecutive year that BEA, an agency of the US Department of Commerce, has released government data on this critical industry sector.

This year it shows how the outdoor industry, despite the impact of widespread public lands and business closures, suspended trips and travel, gathering restrictions, supply chain issues and more, continued to support communities across the country during the pandemic.

Prior to 2020, the outdoor recreation economy was growing faster than the economy in every indicator and served as a resilient economic growth engine and job creator.

Key highlights from 2020 data on the outdoor recreation economy include:
●      Outdoor recreation generated $688 billion in gross output during a year of shutdowns and closures, and 4.3 million jobs in communities across the country.
●      Industry segments like boating and fishing, biking, camping and RVing, hunting and shooting sports, and powersports experienced record sales and unprecedented growth.
●      2020 was one of the toughest years in recent history. With so much isolation and loss, the outdoors was something we could all turn to, in order to connect with families and friends and maintain physical and mental health.
●      The Transportation and Warehousing category decreased 62.37 per cent from 2019 to 2020.
●      Decline in travel and tourism had an outsized impact on outdoor recreation’s overall economic activity and related outdoor segments may continue to struggle. 
●      Outdoor participation soared, especially close-to-home recreation, highlighting the importance of better access to the outdoors for all communities. 
●      Americans’ prioritisation of outdoor recreation continues into 2021 with strong numbers in participation and sales data.

America’s outdoor recreation community, represented by ORR, continues to support the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) – the project compiling and releasing this data.

As is the case for many other industries, the goal is to provide annual data on the economic importance of national and regional outdoor recreation economies that can be tracked for years to come.

To read more about ORR and outdoor recreation’s contributions to the US economy, visit: