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November 10, 2022

Watershed: Maine's outdoor recreation economy generated $2.8 billion in 2021, report shows

Kayakers on a marsh Photo / Renee Cordes Maine's outdoor recreation economy generated $2.8 billion in 2021, a new national report shows. The report also shows that canoeing and kayaking increased 69% in the value-added to Maine's economy.

Maine's outdoor recreation economy generated $2.8 billion in economic output in 2021, representing a 19.3% increase over 2020, a new national report shows.

The report, released Wednesday, marks the fifth consecutive year the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis has released government data on the sector. The latest edition shows how the outdoor industry continues to build on growing popularity during the pandemic. 

In Maine, the outdoor recreation industry made up 3.6% of the economy in 2021, putting it among the top five states. Percentages ranged from a low of 1.3% in New York and Connecticut to a high of 4.8% in Hawaii. 

The Pine Tree State also experienced a 15.6% jump in outdoor recreation employment to more than 31,000 jobs in 2021.

"Outdoor recreation is a competitive advantage for Maine," Jenny Kordick, executive director Maine Outdoor Brands, told Mainebiz. "We have the world-class outdoor recreation opportunities that not only are part of our lifestyle, but are providing the inspiration to design innovative products and start new businesses."

She added that along with an increase in outdoor participation, Maine has seen an increase in outdoor recreation startups.

"The outdoor industry has been a bright spot for Maine and is a sector we should continue to invest in," she said.

Maine Outdoor Brands is a Portland-based nonprofit alliance of 150 brands including Grand Organics, Flowfold, Sea Bags and L.L.Bean.

Other findings 

Nationwide, the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 1.9% ($454 billion) of GDP in 2021, with retail being the biggest contributor to the total, the BEA report shows. 

In Maine, accommodation and food services was the biggest sectoral contributor to the state's $2.8 billion outdoor recreation economy, representing value-added of $721.7 million. Retail accounted for around $674 million, while manufacturing made up around $348 million.

A breakdown of outdoor recreation activities showed that canoeing and kayaking in Maine increased 69% from the previous year in the value added to Maine’s economy. Guiding and outfitting increased 43% in 2021, rebounding from a significant drop in 2021.

Find the full report here. 

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