Outdoor recreation can be a strong part of a diversified regional economy. It can retain and attract visitors and residents, grow businesses and create jobs, support a high quality of life, and increase resilience to boom-and-bust cycles. As rural leaders work to revitalize their regions, more are recognizing outdoor recreation as an economic driver. With strategic planning and investment, these leaders are overcoming infrastructure and capacity gaps and positioning their communities to tap into this opportunity.
This issue brief describes the case for outdoor recreation as part of the rural economic mix, discuss potential challenges and solutions related to recreation-based economic development, highlight the roles regional development organizations (RDOs) can take to support the recreation sector, and share four key ways to get started.