Recreation boosts Washington economy

What brings revenue to our state at a significant level, similar to technology and aerospace? What moves income from urban to rural areas?

Outdoor recreation! We have anticipated its economic might, and now we have the hard facts to back it up.

The new Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State quantifies the contribution of outdoor recreation to Washington State’s economy. Highlights include:

  • $21.6 billion is spent every year on outdoor recreation trips and equipment on both public and private land in Washington.
  • Nearly 200,000 jobs are supported by outdoor recreation, comparable to the aerospace and tech industries in Washington.
  • $10.4 billion is spent on sightseeing and nature activities including $7 billion on wildlife watching and photography.
  • $8 billion is spent on activities around water, including fishing, boating, swimming and diving.
  • Every dollar spent by an out-of-state traveler in Washington generates $1.36 in economic impacts, resulting in a total of $4.6 billion in new money circulating in the state’s economy.
  • The recreation market is one of the largest markets in the state for moving income from urban to rural areas and building jobs in more rural areas.

This comprehensive analysis of the recreation economy in Washington was produced for the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office by Earth Economics, at the direction of the Legislature. It offers economic impact data by geography, by county and by activity.

Full report:

Fact sheet:

Outdoor recreation is an economic gem hiding in plain sight.