Outdoor Recreation Makes Alaska Stronger.
What is the Outdoor Recreation sector?
It’s common knowledge that outdoor recreation supports healthy lifestyles, but many might not consider how it positively affects local businesses and the community. Having a passion for the outdoors is innate for most Alaskans. It’s not just a place we go; it’s our culture, our livelihood, our work, our favorite pastime, our way to connect with family and friends.
The outdoors also underpins a billion-dollar sector made up of thousands of businesses big and small, fueling jobs in manufacturing, finance, retail, transportation, food service, tourism, travel and more. The outdoor recreation sector creates opportunities for a wide range of workers and entrepreneurs from very different backgrounds. From laborers who build and maintain lodges, docks and trails to skilled guides and pilots to restauranteurs and hospitality workers to experts in technology, product design, manufacturing and global commerce, there’s a place in the outdoor recreation sector for all Alaskans.
The time has come for an outdoor sector at the scale of Alaska itself. The Alaska Outdoor Alliance is working to build the best outdoor economy in the world – healthy, prosperous and sustainable.
An unsung economic powerhouse, the outdoor recreation sector creates businesses, jobs and economic opportunity for our rural economies. Alaska is already the 7th largest recreation economy in the U.S, linked to billions of dollars of economic activity. With the unique and extraordinary outdoor experiences Alaska provides, it could and should be the largest recreation economy in the country.
In 2019, the University of Alaska’s Center for Economic Development released a study on the economic impacts and the potential of outdoor recreation in Alaska. Explore more studies and resources for more great information on how the outdoor recreation sector creates jobs, economic activity and greater prosperity under our Resources.
Alaskans have long known the value of coming together in the outdoors. A growing body of research suggests investments in outdoor recreation infrastructure will also assist our communities to:
Reduce crime rates
Improve outcomes in K to 12 education
Lowers health care costs
Attract high quality workers and businesses
Anchorage’s Live. Work. Play. campaign demonstrates these important connections. The University of Washington had documented numerous studies on the connections between outdoor recreation and community healthy and prosperity.
Moreover, responsibly accessing and enjoying nature and our public lands need not deplete them. Responsible outdoor recreation development is regenerative and reinforces the health of people, communities and the lands and water upon which we depend. Explore more research on the benefits of outdoor recreation and stewardship of public lands under our Resources.
Research is also revealing the vital role outdoor recreation plays in improving mental and physical well-being, especially for our kids, seniors, veterans and our most vulnerable populations.
A few examples: Among veterans with PTSD, participation in outdoor recreation corresponds with higher well-being. Kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience milder symptoms when they play outside in natural setting. Moderately active retirees have significantly lower health care costs than sedentary retirees, and exercise has been shown to prevent chronic diseases as effectively as medication.
The Alaska Department of Health, dedicated to ensuring the good health of Alaskans understands the value of close-to-home outdoor recreation and supports the growth of the Alaska Coalition for Active Transportation (ACAT). If you are involved with your tribal or local government on recreation and transportation planning we invite you to learn more and get on board with the Alaska Coalition for Active Transportation (ACAT).