CASPER, Wyo. — Outdoor recreation is a big business and job creator in Wyoming, an industry report shows.
Outdoor recreation generated $4.5 billion in spending in Wyoming in 2011-2012, generated $1.4 billion in wages and salaries, directly employed 50,000 people and generated $300 million in state and local tax revenues, the Outdoor Industry Association found.
The study considered spending of visitors to Wyoming as well as spending of Wyomingites, said Avery Stonich, a spokeswoman for the Boulder, Colo.-based association.
The study considered dozens of outdoor recreation activities, including camping, hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, motorcycling, water sports and wildlife viewing.
Wyoming’s outdoor activities draw tourists, and tourism is the second-largest industry in the Cowboy State, after mining and minerals extraction, said Diane Shober, director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism.
“They are buying goods and services from businesses in Wyoming,” she said. “That, in turn, generates new money in Wyoming. That, in turn, produces tax revenues that residents of Wyoming do not have to pay.”
Chris Merrill, spokesman for the Lander-based Wyoming Outdoor Council, wasn’t surprised by the study’s results.
“I think the data reaffirms that outdoor recreation is a very important driver of the state economy,” he said. “It supports jobs and businesses and communities.”
The association hired the firm Southwick Associates Inc. of Fernandina Beach, Fla., to survey online what people spent on outdoor recreation in the prior 12 months. They were asked about gear they purchased and travel expenses to pursue outdoor recreation, such as fuel, food and drinks.
The survey was conducted in the third and fourth quarter of 2012, so “not everyone was reporting on the exact same period,” Stonich said.