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New study shows how outdoor recreation in Oregon is a growing and important part of the state’s economic growth and resiliency

January 12, 2021
Official Press Release

PORTLAND, Ore. — Jan. 14, 2021 — Travel Oregon, in partnership with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), the Oregon Office of Outdoor Recreation (OREC), Oregon Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) and Earth Economics, released a new Outdoor Recreation Economic Impact Study that demonstrates the importance of Oregon’s vast range of outdoor recreation opportunities to the state’s economy.

The study finds that in 2019 outdoor recreation supported more than 224,000 full- and part-time jobs statewide and generated $9.3 billion in wages and compensation. The study also found that in 2019, outdoor recreation in Oregon supported $15.6 billion in spending, which includes everything from trip-related spending (money spent on recreational trips), to expenditures on equipment-related spending (outdoor recreation gear, apparel, equipment, and repair).

“Outdoor recreation and Oregon’s scenic beauty are among our greatest assets to attract visitors and create a robust statewide tourism economy. Our focus at Travel Oregon is to partner with federal and state agencies, tribal governments and regional partners on targeted investments that improve accessibility and sustainability of these assets,” said Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon. “This study provides strategic insights for us to apply as we work to stimulate the recovery of small businesses, outfitters and communities that rely upon visitor spending while we also continue to prioritize public health. When travel fully resumes, it is essential these small businesses are ready to welcome visitors and create memorable Oregon experiences.”

The report was commissioned because outdoor recreation in Oregon has been visibly growing over the years, but an economic analysis specifically on outdoor recreation and its reach in direct and indirect spending in local communities has never been completed before. The data provided for the study was pre-COVID-19 because that is the last full year of available information including trip length, consumer spending, jobs supported, and other economic impacts associated with engaging in outdoor recreation activities in Oregon by residents and out-of-state visitors. The report breaks down data by county, state Senate boundaries and tourism regions.

“Oregonians already know how much outdoor recreation contributes to their quality of life, but what this report makes clear is just how important of an economic driver it is as well,” said Cailin O’Brien-Feeney, Director of OREC. “Looking ahead there’s more work to do, and even more investments to be made, to ensure all people can enjoy outdoor experiences while also helping communities recover from the impacts of the pandemic and 2020 wildfires.”

“Oregonians clearly love the outdoors. What makes those outdoor experiences so special is the chance to see and connect with fish and wildlife,” said Curt Melcher, Director of ODFW. “The report helps reinforce the importance of healthy fish, wildlife and habitat to the state’s economy.”

Better understanding the role outdoor recreation plays in the state’s economy will drive future strategies in destination management and marketing and help inform effective decision and policymaking. The full Outdoor Recreation Economic Impact Study can be found at industry.traveloregon.com.