Boating, biking, and manufacturing drove Maine’s outdoor recreation economy in a challenging pandemic year
AUGUSTA, Maine (November 9, 2021) – The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has released data indicating the impact outdoor recreation had on each states’ economy in 2020. According to the report, which measures the economic activity as well as the sales generated by outdoor recreation, Maine’s outdoor recreation industry made up 3.3% percent of the state’s economy, ranking it fifth amongst all states.
In a year that saw canceled events, closed stores, supply chain issues, travel bans, and more, the inflation-adjusted (real) GDP for the outdoor recreation economy decreased 19.0 percent nationally from 2019 to 2020, with a 15.6 percent decrease in Maine. Nationally and in Maine, there was also a decrease in employment, largely due to a decrease in supporting outdoor recreation activity which includes travel and tourism.
However, certain outdoor recreation segments saw tremendous growth. The value-added from conventional outdoor recreation activities like boating, fishing, camping, and hiking increased in 2020. Manufacturing of outdoor gear and equipment saw an increase in Maine, whereas it decreased nationally.
This is the fourth consecutive year that government data has been released for the outdoor recreation sector. Highlights from 2020 data on the outdoor recreation economy:
- Outdoor recreation made up 3.3% of Maine’s economy – making Maine one of the top five states in the country in the value outdoor recreation added to statewide GDP
- Outdoor recreation generated $2.3 billion in gross output, despite shutdowns and closures
- Boating and fishing saw an increase of 27% from the previous year in the value added to Maine’s economy
- The value biking added to Maine’s economy increased 15% in 2020
- Manufacturing of outdoor recreation gear and equipment contributed $260 million to Maine’s economy in 2020, an 8.5% increase over 2019
- Since 2019, outdoor recreation value-added has decreased 15.6 percent in Maine, compared with a decrease of 19.5 percent for the United States
“The Mills Administration recognizes that outdoor recreation attracts new businesses to our communities, encourages a healthy lifestyle and is a critical part of Maine’s overall economy,” said Carolann Ouellette, director of Maine’s Office of Outdoor Recreation. “This year’s data from BEA illustrates the challenges that the pandemic presented for our outdoor recreation economy, but they also reinforce the importance of the outdoors and the Administration’s work of leveraging our outdoor heritage and our natural and human resources to strengthen our economy in Maine.”
Since the pandemic began, the outdoors has been more important than ever, with many people turning to outdoor recreation for the first time. Maine’s state parks had a record-breaking year in 2020 despite spring closures, with more than 3 million visitors.
“Maine’s outdoor industry has proven to be resilient throughout the pandemic. Our manufacturing brands quickly pivoted from making outdoor gear to making PPE for healthcare workers. And our outdoor experience providers managed a surge of new outdoor participation,” said Jenny Kordick, Executive Director of Maine Outdoor Brands. “This new customer base prioritizing outdoor recreation represents a growing opportunity for Maine’s outdoor experience providers and gear manufacturers and shows the need for continued investment in our state’s outdoor recreation sector.”
Kordick added, “Outdoor industry leaders in Maine shared in a recent video series how the pandemic has shaped our outdoor economy, underscored the important role we can play in connecting more people to the outdoors, and given us hope for the future.”
The 2020 outdoor recreation data was compiled from existing statistics on the state and national economy and includes the economic impact of conventional outdoor activities, including defined camping, hiking, boating, and hunting. It also covers other parts of the economy such as gardening and outdoor festivals, as well as construction, travel, and tourism, and local trips shopping and lodging that support the above activities. These statistics also measure each industry’s production of outdoor goods and services and its contribution to U.S. GDP. Industry breakdowns of outdoor employment and compensation are also included.
Pull quotes from the MOB 2020 video series:
“Running an outdoor business during COVID-19 is a lot like climbing – it involves problem solving, continuous learning, and flexibility.” – Jon Tierney, Acadia Mountain Guides
“Because of our unique location and being able to offer ocean lifestyle, mountain lifestyle, biking, hiking, camping, hunting, we’re uniquely positioned to welcome this influx of outdoor participation and interest brought on by the pandemic. The future is bright for our businesses in the state of Maine that have invested in outdoor pursuits, whether you’re a campground, a gear company, or a guide service.” – Ryan Lilly, Old Town Canoe
“The more we can do to get people outdoors, get them trying new experiences, ultimately it benefits us all. It benefits the entire state.” – Jim Darroch, Sandy Pines Campground
“The outdoor industry here in Maine is one of the highlights of Maine. We cover everything from the appreciation and respect of the natural resources to the innovation from the companies that make high-quality products and offer incredible experiences.” – Tino Fiumara, Salt Pump Climbing Gym
“The Maine outdoor industry is really resilient. I think it’s the outdoors that gives us that hope. There are so many ways we can react and respond that can be positive.” – Ainsley Judge, Portland Gear Hub
“Instead of going on trips and vacations, people in Maine bought a boat. They bought an RV. They stayed home and enjoyed the great outdoors. It was great to see.” – Steve Arnold, Freedom Boat Club of Maine
About Maine Outdoor Brands:
Maine Outdoor Brands continues to work to unite, grow, and give a voice to the state’s outdoor recreation industry, supporting knowledge sharing, collaborative marketing, and commerce efforts and access to professional resources. MOB is committed to seeing Maine-based products, services, and retail brands thrive, and today has over 130 member brands that are a part of the mission.