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Outdoor Recreation Bolsters Virginia’s Economy With $21.9 Billion Annually in Consumers Spending and 197,000 Jobs

July 26, 2017

Media Contact

Emily Walsh

Sunshine Sachs


Boulder, Colo.

Outdoor recreation is a huge economic force in the state of Virginia. It generates $21.9 billion annually in consumer spending, directly contributes a whopping 197,000 jobs and contributes $1.2 billion in state and local tax revenue, according to the Outdoor Recreation Economy state report released today by Outdoor Industry Association (OIA).

“No matter your political affiliation, where you live or your walk of life, the outdoors brings us together,” said Amy Roberts, OIA executive director. “From Maine to California, consumers are spending more on outdoor recreation as millions of Americans depend on it for their livelihoods. Outdoor recreation is a powerful economic engine that contributes to businesses and healthy communities in each and every state and is a vital and sustainable sector that relies on investing in and protecting America’s public lands and waters.”

OIA’s report also highlights that 57 percent of Virginia’s 8.4 million residents participate in outdoor recreation each year. Additionally, Virginia’s state parks have an impact of more than $222 million a year on Virginia’s economy.

“The Outdoor Industry Association’s report confirms what we know in Virginia: outdoor recreation is great for the economy. Virginians have long embraced outdoor activities, from the beaches on the Eastern Shore to the view in Shenandoah National Park, from the historic battlefields across the state to the gateway of the Cumberland Gap—there is something for everyone here. As the report outlines, the outdoor recreation economy is large and growing, providing nearly $887 billion in spending, including nearly $22 billion in Virginia, each year, proving this is a force to be reckoned with,” said Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).

The report highlights another point many in the industry already know—that outdoor recreation doesn’t just generate a healthy lifestyle or significant dollars but also adds 197,000 jobs to Virginia’s job pool (as highlighted above) and $6.5 billion in wages and salaries.

As outlined in the state report, Virginia remains well positioned to continue to grow its outdoor recreation economy, but as with any sector, there are actions that can support and grow the industry. Outdoor Industry Association urges state policymakers to do the following:

  • Adequately fund state and local parks and trails to make them attractive and accessible to families and friends seeking to get outside.
  • Take steps to raise awareness of the importance of the outdoor recreation economy
  • Develop and plan urban areas in a way that means all citizens can get outside and recreate within 30 minutes of their homes.
  • Support policies that encourage outdoor innovators to start businesses in Virginia.

Outdoor Industry Association issued the first Outdoor Recreation Economy state-level report in 2012 and has made significant improvements to the report since then. This second edition of the state report takes a broader view of the growing industry and its shifting demographics. The sample that was drawn for this study was designed to represent the U.S. population on the basis of gender, age, education and race.

Respondents were solicited through Survey Sampling International (SSI), a longtime leader in survey research. The report was made possible through the generous support of REI, Patagonia, The North Face, W.L. Gore, People for Bikes, The Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) and The Outdoor Foundation.

About Outdoor Industry Association

Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry and the title sponsor of Outdoor Retailer. Outdoor Industry Association unites and serves over 1,200 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit