Maine’s outdoor recreation economy grew by 16.5% from 2021-22, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Jason Rushing of China guides his boat into the water before fishing for large and smallmouth bass at China Lake in October. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Collectively, outdoor recreation – which encompasses a variety of activities, including fishing, hunting, skiing and RVing – generated $3.3 billion in 2022. That’s nearly 4% of the state’s gross domestic product. Only five other states had higher percentages.

“Outdoor recreation isn’t just a pastime; it’s the heartbeat of our state’s economy,” said Jenny Kordick, executive director of Maine Outdoor Brands, which represents 150 member businesses and works closely with Maine’s Office of Outdoor Recreation. “By boosting support for our outdoor gems and backing new and existing businesses, we’re not just meeting the growing demand for adventure but creating a wave of innovation and new jobs.”

Overall, the outdoor recreation industry supported approximately 32,000 jobs in 2022, a 7% increase over 2021.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis only started calculating the size of states’ outdoor recreation economies in 2017, but 2022 was the biggest year for Maine, which has long been a destination for visitors interested in outdoor activities.

Among the standout areas of economic impact, according to the report, were boating and fishing ($412 million); RVing ($326 million); outdoor apparel and accessories ($178 million); and snow-related activities ($68 million). Snow activities saw the biggest increase over 2021 at 36%.

“The importance of the outdoor recreation sector and how it is a consistent economic driver is reinforced with the new BEA data,” said Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation Director Carolann Ouellette. “It also reinforces the importance of continual investment that supports the stewardship of our natural assets and the innovative businesses that strengthen our economy.”

Maine Outdoor Brands and the Office of Outdoor Recreation will discuss the report in greater detail next week at the annual Maine Outdoor Economy Summit, held Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.

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