Oregon Sees Dollar Signs in Outdoor Recreation
Byline: Susan Palmer The Register-Guard
CORRECTION (ran 8/25/2006): A story on Page A1 on Thursday about recreation spending incorrectly said Travel Oregon, the state's travel commission, would ask the Legislature for money to do more research on recreation spending. The agency is supported by taxes on lodging and plans to use money from its existing budget to do the research.
Who knew fun was such big business?
Local recreation experts, for one. They say they weren't surprised to learn that outdoor recreation in the United States contributes $730 billion annually to the nation's economy.
That figure appeared in a 20-page report released earlier this month by the Outdoor Industry Association, a trade group based in Colorado.
The report so intrigued Travel Oregon, the name of the state's travel commission, that it plans to ask the Legislature for extra money next year to conduct similar research at the state level.
In Lane County alone, visitors spend $70 million per year on recreation, art and entertainment, said Lisa Lawton, a spokeswoman for the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County Oregon. And that doesn't include what local residents spend on outdoor activities, she said.
"If we're generating $70 million here in Lane County, you know it's got to be significant, nationally," she said.
The industry association report looked at spending on activities that ranged from bicycling to bird-watching and camping to canoeing, but it excluded spectator activities such as attending sporting events.
Direct spending on travel and outdoor gear came to $289 billion, researchers concluded. But even more significant was the impact on the economy from the ripple effect of such spending - employment, materials suppliers and product shipping, for example. That total came to $441 billion.
The $289 billion in direct spending outstrips other important areas of the economy - $251 billion on cars and light trucks, for example, and $144 billion on drugs and health aids.
The report also offered some other intriguing comparisons.
More Americans camp (45 million) than play basketball (32 million). More of us canoe and kayak (24 million) than play soccer (17 million).
When it comes to jobs, the industry employs 6.5 million people. Camping employed the most with 2.3 million jobs, and bicycling was a close second with 1. …