Karen Nutini via Wikimedia Commons

Virginia’s outdoor recreation economy grew 20.9 percent in 2021, adding $9.4 billion and making up 1.6 percent of Virginia’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to a November report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

I’m thrilled to see this level of economic growth of Virginia’s outdoor recreation. I’m looking forward to continuing my work in Washington to ensure that our outdoorsmen and women have the opportunities and resources they need to continue enjoying their time in our great outdoors for generations to come,” Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) said in a newsletter Friday.

The commonwealth’s outdoor economy included 106,993 jobs, 2.6 percent of the commonwealth’s total employment, and $4.8 billion in compensation, 1.4 percent of the Virginia total. The top activity was boating/fishing, generating about $5.5 million, with RVing at $3.1 million and hunting/shooting/trapping at just under $3.1 million. The 2021 numbers show growth across activities from 2020, except in boating/fishing, which added nearly $6.7 million in 2020, and hunting/fishing/trapping, which added about $3.3 million in 2020.

The abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities in Virginia like boating, fishing, hunting, equestrian, and others, played a significant contribution to this growth. Additionally,  is one of 17 states with a Virginia Office of Outdoor Recreation which has done great work in preparing the state for new businesses and jobs, supporting rural communities, and improving public health through outdoor activities,” Wittman wrote.

Virginia’s growth trails a 24.7 percent increase for the whole United States. The Commonwealth was 18th among states for contribution to the state’s GDP, called Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) value added, and 37th among states for growth. Nationally, Hawaii has the largest ORSA value added: 4.8 percent of the state’s GDP, with 47.3 percent growth from 2020.

Boating/fishing, RVing, and hunting/shooting/trapping were also the biggest activities nationally, making up over $63 billion in value added.

“Inflation-adjusted (“real”) GDP for the outdoor recreation economy increased 18.9 percent in 2021, compared with a 5.9 percent increase for the overall U.S. economy, reflecting a rebound in outdoor recreation after the decrease of 21.6 percent in 2020. Real gross output for the outdoor recreation economy increased 21.7 percent, while outdoor recreation compensation increased 16.2 percent and employment increased 13.1 percent,” the BEA reported.


Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. This article originally appeared in The Virginia Star. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. Republished with permission.