The American Recreation Coalition’s recently released a report on the latest growth in recreational activity with projections for next year. “Outdoor Recreation Outlook 2018” reports good sales and increased activity for 2017, finding that Americans spend more than $887 billion annually on equipment ranging from skis and tents to RVs and boats, and on recreational services.
Visitation to public lands and waters is up 7.7 percent from 2016 levels, with 23.7 million more visits for the year to date.
Recreation.gov, a unified means for making reservations on all federal lands, reports 19 million users and 37 million sessions in 2017, up 26 percent and 22 percent respectively. The inventory of federal reservable facilities also increased to 3,367 sites.
Adding to this positive outlook for public lands and waters are recent initiatives announced by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke who has formed the Recreation Advisory Committee and engaged with industry groups like the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable.
State park visitation trends also continue to reach record levels. Collectively, America’s State Parks hosted more than 790 million visitors in 2016, 373 million of which were to fee-collecting areas. State parks now report an inventory of more than 240,000 campsites, of which about one-third are seasonal. Of the nearly 66 million overnight visitors to state parks in the past year, over 61.4 million were by campers.
According to RVIA, the market for RVs has maintained its strength and sales of new units are expected to reach 419,500 units in 2017 and 429,300 units in 2018. Looking further out, forecasts for 2019 RV sales remain favorable with total shipments expected to finish at more than 490,000 units, marking a ninth consecutive year of gains, the longest ever recorded.
As for public waters, the $36-billion U.S. boating industry is seeing some of its highest sales in nearly a decade. Unit sales of new powerboats increased 6 percent in 2016, reaching 247,800 boats sold, and are expected to increase an additional 6 percent in 2017, a trajectory the National Marine Manufacturers Association anticipates continuing through 2018.