Coming on the heels of a record-breaking year of shipments for the RV industry, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that RVs accounted for $30 billion in direct economic activity in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available. The data is from the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA), the first ever government report recognizing outdoor recreation as a significant contributor to the U.S. economy.
Overall, according to Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), outdoor recreation accounted for 2.0 percent ($373.7 billion) of current-dollar GDP in 2016. In addition, the outdoor recreation economy grew 3.8 percent in 2016, compared to 2.8 percent growth in the overall economy.
The report calculated the outdoor recreation industry’s annual gross output to be $673 billion, surpassing other sectors such as agriculture, petroleum and coal, and computer and electronic products. The report marks a critical step forward for the outdoor recreation industry by formally recognizing its economic influence.
In the study, BEA separated outdoor recreation into two categories, “Conventional Outdoor Recreation” consisting of RVing, camping, hiking, boating and hunting and “Other Outdoor Recreation” consisting of outdoor festivals, field sports and guided tours. The direct contributions of RVs were captured in the “Conventional Outdoor Recreation” category, but the effects of the RV industry can be felt in many of the “Other Outdoor Recreation” activities.
“Motorized Vehicles” was the largest activity within “Conventional Outdoor Recreation” in 2016, accounting for $59.4 billion of gross output. This means that RVs, with their $30.0 billion in gross output, account for more than half of that value.
“The ORSA report is a welcome signal of the critical economic role outdoor recreation plays in the United States, and the RV industry figures reaffirm the strength of our business,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president, RV Industry Association. “We are fortunate to represent a rapidly growing industry that helps keep America’s economy strong and brings enjoyment to millions of Americans.”
The full report issued by ORSA and BEA can be found here.