New Government Report Provides Further Evidence of the Power of the Outdoor Recreation Economy across the United States

Visitors Spend $472.2 billion on Outdoor Recreation, Outdoor Recreation Economy Outpaces overall U.S. Economic Growth

Annapolis, MD – The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis has released a new report that provides updated data on the economic power of outdoor recreation. “The U.S. outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2 percent ($427.2 billion) of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017. The Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) also shows that inflation-adjusted (real) GDP for the outdoor recreation economy grew by 3.9 percent in 2017, faster than the 2.4 percent growth of the overall U.S. economy.”

Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn issued this statement following the release.

“The Bureau of Economic Analysis report provides even further evidence that outdoor recreation is a major economic driver, in Chesapeake Bay states and in all states across the United States. The report shows that outdoor recreation contributes billions of dollars each year to the economies of the six Chesapeake Bay watershed states and Washington, D.C., and it shows that on average, outdoor recreation GDP grew by 13% in Chesapeake Bay states from 2012 to 2017. Access to outdoor recreation opportunities through parks and trails delivers triple bottom line returns – for our health, for the environment, and for the economy. Chesapeake Conservancy looks forward to continued work with partners and our local and state governments to expand public access to outdoor recreation opportunities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”

Charts of Economic Value-Added (GDP) attributed to Outdoor Recreation and the Employment and Employment Compensation Attributed to Outdoor Recreation for states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are provided below. Core activities are direct outdoor recreation activities and retail spending, and supporting activities include travel and tourism, construction, and governmental spending.

State Outdoor Recreation (Core and Supporting) Employment, 2017 Outdoor Recreation Employment Compensation, 2017
Pennsylvania 173,588  $ 6,826,124,000
Maryland 92,683  $ 3,746,066,000
Virginia 128,407  $ 4,795,163,000
New York 293,447  $ 14,178,838,000
West Virginia 22,202  $ 688,507,000
Delaware 18,485  $ 611,026,000
Washington, D.C. 23,651  $ 977,279,000
Total Employment 2017 752,463
Total Compensation 2017  $ 31,823,003,000


State Value Added by Outdoor Recreation (Core and Supporting Activities), 2017 Value Added by Outdoor Recreation (Core and Supporting Activities), 2012 Growth 2012 – 2017
Pennsylvania $ 13,173,567,000 $ 11,397,994,000 15.58%
Maryland $ 7,058,582,000 $ 6,145,402,000 14.86%
Virginia $ 9,285,508,000 $ 8,035,053,000 15.56%
New York $ 26,299,866,000 $ 22,665,105,000 16.04%
West Virginia $ 1,497,706,000 $ 1,477,273,000 1.38%
Delaware $ 1,309,865,000 $ 1,166,235,000 12.32%
Washington, D.C. $ 1,623,489,000 $ 1,402,232,000 15.78%
Total Value Added $ 60,248,583,000 $ 52,289,294,000 15.22%
Average Growth Across All States 13.07%



Chesapeake Conservancy’s mission is to conserve and restore the natural and cultural resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. We empower the conservation community with access to the latest data and technology. As principal partner for the National Park Service on the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, we helped create 153 new public access sites and permanently protect some of the Bay’s special places like Werowocomoco, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, and Fort Monroe National Monument.