In spite of, and because of, the pandemic, Montana has taken the top spot in the nation for its reliance on the outdoor recreation economy as a portion of its gross domestic product.
According to statistics released this week by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Montana’s outdoor economy comprised 4.3% of the state’s total GDP in 2020, outpacing perennial favorite Hawaii, which fell to 3.8%.
“I’ll be curious to see if this holds up,” said Jeremy Sage, interim director of the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana.
According to the federal analysis, Montana’s outdoor industry generated $2.23 billion in 2020, down from $2.49 billion in 2019. Wyoming fell from $1.58 billion to $1.24 billion.
Retail sales play a big role in these figures, Sage pointed out.
“For the nation, the retail trade sector was the largest contributor to U.S. outdoor recreation value added in 2020, accounting for $101.9 billion,” according to the BEA. “At the state level, retail trade was the largest contributor to outdoor recreation value added in 35 states.”
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