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Pinedale Summary | Outdoor recreation fueled the state’s economy

WYOMING – Trendy outdoor recreation sales in Wyoming have risen dramatically since the pandemic began, statistics show.

The latest figures from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis show that outdoor recreation has fueled the state’s economy amid significantly higher demand. Chris Floyd, manager of the Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation, shared statistics showing how much that demand has grown since the pandemic began.

“Many outdoor activities saw significant growth, including snowmobiling and ORV driving, where permit sales rose over 18 percent and 16 percent, respectively, from 2019 to 2020,” Floyd said. “Although the overall economic impact of outdoor recreation has decreased, most of the losses in the industry were due to restrictions on some activities such as snow skiing and outdoor events, which had a severe impact due to closings and other restrictions during the pandemic.”

Even notable outdoor recreation destinations like ski resorts were closed in March 2020 when COVID-19 swept the country. Wyoming’s outdoor recreational destinations reopened weeks later, and most of them stayed open during the state’s surge last winter – albeit with masking requirements at certain times. However, the openness allowed companies to attract and benefit from the surge in travel west and the desire of the masses to be active while safely maintaining social distancing.

However, that first hit had an impact on Wyoming’s bottom line. Total outdoor recreational value added decreased Wyoming’s GDP from $ 1.69 billion in 2019 to $ 1.25 billion the following year. The employment sector saw a massive drop of more than 33 percent, although total wages only fell 0.1 percent, according to the latest economic report.

Snow activities, especially ski resorts, saw a 37 percent decrease – about $ 40 million – which largely offset the significant gains in other outdoor recreational activities. Hunting, shooting and equestrian sports fell by 21 and 28 percent, respectively.

After those losses, Wyoming’s stock rose to fourth in the country for percent value added, GDP, and total wages in 2020. The state followed only Hawaii, Vermont, and neighboring Montana.

The summer activities boosted the state’s economy. Summer recreational activities in Wyoming grew almost everywhere.

In particular, the economic impact of boating and fishing rose an unprecedented 79 percent. The impact of cycling increased 13 percent in the state, climbing / hiking / camping 6 percent, then motorcycling and ATV riding increased 5 percent. RV camping increased Wyoming’s economic impact by 2.5 percent compared to previous years.

According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis report, many Wyoming companies reported strong sales of outdoor recreational equipment and vehicles that would have grown even higher if supply chains had been able to keep up with demand.

The report quoted Mark Black, owner of Cycle City Wyoming in Evanston, a powersports company. Black said his company’s gross sales increased over 40 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year. He said this trend will continue this year, having already surpassed last year’s gross sales to date.

“Our problem now is the supply chain, where manufacturers limit not only the quantities but also the models and sometimes send incomplete units waiting for chips for instrument clusters,” he said. “Demand has been pretty constant and I don’t see a dramatic decline in the near future.”

The number of visitors to Wyoming State Parks also increased 41 percent from 2019. The high numbers in both state parks and national parks helped spur economic activity across the country as Wyoming experienced a downturn in other aspects of its economy, not just mineral extraction.

Economists expect the numbers for next year to far exceed even 2020 statistics as vaccine availability has been widespread. There has also been a significant increase in visits to Wyoming, including its states and national parks.

Grand Teton National Park announced in October that it had set a new visitor record for the calendar year. Yellowstone National Park followed suit earlier this month with a similar announcement.

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