Facilitating the Development of Eco-System Economies Through Outdoor Recreation and Adventure Sport in Complex Systems: An International Analysis and Applications to Western New York
Cullen, Kevin D.
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The Outdoor Recreation Industry is an often overlooked major economic engine of the U.S. and global economies. Not only do direct sales in gear, outings, instruction, and access contribute greatly to the U.S. GDP but the industry also supports millions of jobs and has a high multiplier effect with downstream spending on travel, food, and lodging all amplifying its economic impacts. A recent Outdoor Industry Association Report estimated that the Outdoor Recreation Industry contributes $887 Billion annually to the U.S. economy, supports 7.6 million jobs, and generates $124 billion in federal and state tax revenue. With this emerging awareness of the outdoor recreation industry’s economic impacts two pieces of recreation-focused legislation were passed in 2016; the “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act” which seeks to remove barriers to outdoor recreation access to increase participation, and the bipartisan supported “Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act.” This thesis seeks to examine the impacts of this emerging industry on human health & well-being, environmental attitudes, and economic systems by examining the outdoor recreation industry through the lens of facilitating the generation of ecosystem economies. This work begins with an examination of the current literature on the subject. It then explores the building blocks and functions of ecosystem economies and seeks to utilize the nature of complex adaptive systems to create desired outcomes. From there a qualitative analysis of international leading outdoor recreation and adventure sport concepts and destinations is conducted to glean industry best practices with recommended applications of these findings offered for Western New York that introduce four pilot adventure sport business models.