According to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis, the outdoor recreation industry made up 2.2 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 with some $416 billion added to the American economy.

With a 1.7 percent growth rate over the previous year, outdoor recreation also outpaced overall national GDP growth which came in at 1.6 percent for 2016.

The outdoor recreation industry also outpaced the national average in labor categories, with a 4.3 percent compensation growth rate compared to the 2.7 percent average for all industries, along with a 2.3 percent employment growth compared with the 1.4 percent all-industries average.

Within outdoor recreation, boating and fishing made up the largest piece of the pie with nearly $37 billion contributed.

Outdoor games, such as golfing or tennis, contributed $34.7 billion, while RVing contributed just over $30 billion.

Guided and outfitted travel brought in $25.7 billion, with outdoor events such as festivals, concerts and sporting events bringing in $23.1 billion.

Motorcycles and ATVs added more than $20 billion to the economy in 2016.

According to the BEA release, 4.55 million Americans were employed in outdoor recreation with 43 percent of those positions coming under the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food service industrial category.

Another 30 percent of those outdoor recreation employees were involved in the retail industry with six percent working in manufacturing.

With much of the state's tourism industry based around outdoor recreation, Gov. Jim Justice announced that a recently completed study had found that West Virginian's tourism grew in 2017 for the first time since 2012.

The research, completed by Dean Runyan and Associates, found that West Virginia tourist spending grew at a rate 30 percent higher than the national average.

While the uptick in 2017 came as positive news, it followed a 14 percent drop in travel spending in the state from 2012 to 2016.

According to previously compiled data from Dean Runyan and Associates, travel within the seven counties in the Register-Herald distribution led to over $5.8 million in local taxes and more than $500 million in total spending.

-- Email: mcombs@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @mattcombsRH

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