Utah’s recreation economy is booming, reaping benefits for all

If you ski, snowboard, go snowmobiling or traverse the backcountry, the state of Utah thanks you.

Collectively, snow enthusiasts contributed $602 million to Utah’s outdoor recreation economy, which saw its biggest financial gain in 2022 — raking in a total of $8.1 billion overall.

That number from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis details that the outdoor recreation economy in Utah grew 32.8% from 2021 to 2022, accounting for 3.2% of Utah’s GDP that includes 71,677 jobs and $3.6 billion in wages.

Takeaways are:

The top industries include: snow activities, $602 million; RVing, $538 million; boating/fishing, $438 million; hunting/shooting/trapping, $245 million; OHV/motorcycling/ATVing, $136 million.This is the largest recorded measure for Utah since the bureau started calculating the size of the outdoor recreation economy in 2012.At a national level, the new numbers show outdoor recreation generates $1.1 trillion for the economy.

Jason Curry, deputy director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, says the numbers are no accident based on Utah’s vast array of outdoor recreation opportunities, its collection of stunning national parks, diverse state parks and wide-open spaces that offer a little bit of something for everyone.

Last year’s record snowpack helped bump those numbers, he added.

“Our ski season last year was a record breaker. We may not see a year like that one for a long time,” Curry said, but added there is always room for optimism.

Strangely, if COVID-19 has any positive aspect to it, with millions dying around the world, with lockdowns and shutdowns of schools, limited travel and funerals and weddings suffering severely along with the dreaded masks and six-foot distancing — it helped awaken people to the great outdoors.

“That was one of the few good outcomes from from COVID. It taught us how valuable it is to be outside and to be doing things,” Curry said. “Recreationally there’s health benefits galore, not just physical health because it makes us less likely to get things like diabetes and heart disease, but the mental health benefits make you feel better.”

Garrett Bishop and Nick Levenson enjoy a break while skiing at Alta Ski Resort on Friday, Dec. 15, 2023. A new report details the economic might of outdoor recreation in Utah, as much as $8.1 billion in economic output.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The 2002 Olympics

When the Winter Games came to Utah in 2002, people at first saw the state as a place that was home to a major religion, but came to realize it was home to natural wonders just a stone’s throw away from downtown Salt Lake City.

Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude are nestled in the canyons just east of a major metropolitan area and for just a few miles more, you can explore what Park City has to offer or Snowbasin, Powder Mountain and Nordic in Ogden Valley east of Ogden City.

Curry said the 2002 event with all eyes glued on Utah opened up the possibilities for people who may have stereotyped the state.

“Quickly, people realize there’s a lot to Utah in terms of outdoor recreation opportunity that way,” he said.

According to the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Institute, Utah’s job growth consistently ranks at or near the top of other states.

Utah’s “free market” economy is attractive to the tech industry, which is booming.

Curry said, however, it is more than just the economy and tax structure that lures companies here, or their employees.

“Companies that have been interviewed have stated that one of the reasons they wanted to put their headquarters here is because they felt like they could attract some of the best talent from around the country because some of that best talent also (wants) recreation. We have just so much to offer,” he said.

This article was originally published by a www.deseret.com . Read the Original article here. .