Outdoor Industry Summit Coming in August

  • Newsroom
  • >
  • Outdoor Industry Summit Coming in August

Outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse in the United States; each year generating $646 billion in consumer spending and 6.1 million direct jobs. In many rural places, hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching have boosted rural tourism, spurred business growth, and contributed to our economic resiliency.

Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry accounts for $9.6 billion in value-added (GDP) annually and contributed 120,000 direct jobs in 2020. According to the 2017 SCORP report, 92% of Colorado residents participate in outdoor recreation each year. Colorado’s outdoor economy contributes to a higher quality of life, making people and communities happier and healthier. Outdoor recreation in the state of Colorado is estimated to provide $62 billion in economic revenue.

The well-being and livelihoods of residents and the economy of Eagle County are deeply connected to our region’s abundant outdoor recreation assets. Eagle County’s rivers and snowmelt runoff not only support farming and ranching but also a vibrant year-round recreation economy. However, our outdoor recreation economy is about much more than our ski industry.

The ski industry is an iconic and integral part of the Eagle County economy, providing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic revenue. The ski industry is intimately connected to other vital industries in Eagle County including accommodation, food services, retail, and real estate and rentals.

Eagle County has long been centered in the outdoor recreation business through our tourism and recreation economy. We are increasingly seeing an increase in outdoor recreation that is aligned with, but outside of, direct tourism impacts. This helps diversify our economy and provide primary jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. For all that our community has accomplished in the past, our focus moving forward is on creating new opportunities for success today and a bright future tomorrow.

Our ski industry together with our emerging outdoor recreation industry helps lead to economic development and diversification in mountain communities. The economics are straightforward and compelling. Consumers spend more on outdoor recreation than they do on pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, parts, or gasoline and fuels. Outdoor recreation employs 7.6 million people, more than computer technology, construction, finance, and insurance. That is particularly good news for us in Eagle County, as outdoor recreation is a key contributor to our economy and is aligned with the strong foundation that our tourism economy provides.

Our access to outdoor recreation and our growing outdoor recreation industry supports entrepreneurism and talent attraction & retention. Access to the outdoors and high quality of life attracts and retains new businesses and skilled workers and an increase in gear manufacturing and other lifestyle economy opportunities.

Vail Valley Partnership, along with the CU Boulder Office of Outdoor Recreation Economy, is hosting an Outdoor Industry Summit on August 22. This summit will feature a discussion of strategies to balance outdoor recreation and conservation of natural resources, ways to grow and sustain the outdoor industry in our region, and panel and tabletop discussions on key topics facing the outdoor recreation industry. Panel discussions will focus on the outdoor industry and destination stewardship, and tabletop conversations will be facilitated on topics ranging from financing to supply chain challenges, branding to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), and of course on the workforce.

Our vision for Eagle County is to support a vibrant economy that includes our outdoor recreation businesses, and businesses need support that fosters collaboration, sustainable growth, and innovation. The outdoor recreation industry – like so many of our business sectors – needs a talent pipeline to build a skilled workforce for future jobs and careers. Join us on August 22 to be part of this effort.


Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com