Percent of Vermont’s GDP
JOBS IN OUTDOOR RECREATION (2019)
DOLLARS IN ANNUAL WAGES (2019)
STATE REVENUE GENERATED BY TOURISM (2017)
Mountains, lakes, trails, parks—the lure of Vermont means big business.
Innovative and nimble in the face of change, Vermont’s outdoor recreation companies represent the full panorama of sports and physical activities outside in all seasons.
Vermont’s multi-faceted outdoor recreation sector reflects our mountainous landscape dotted with hills and valleys: big companies work shoulder to shoulder with scores of smaller businesses, while well-established companies mentor start up entrepreneurs, each providing economic opportunity and fostering high quality of life in downtowns and rural villages across the state. According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, Vermont’s outdoor recreation economy grew faster (+15%) than the overall Vermont economy (+3) between 2012 – 2017.
Vermont is home to some of the most recognizable businesses in sports and recreation: The Orvis Company, Killington Ski Resort, Kingdom Trails Association, Burton Snowboards, Skida Headwear and Accessories, and Darn Tough Vermont are just a few. These companies value their close proximity to some of the best terrain in the world—Vermont’s Long Trail, Lake Champlain, Mount Mansfield, Mad River—thousands of miles of trails and rivers and millions of acres of open land where they can prototype, test, and perfect their products in the field and find plenty of customers nearby. In fact, the average Vermont household spends up to $3,500 annually on recreation admission fees, supplies, equipment, and services.
Snow sports, hunting, and related retail are the dominant players in the sector statewide, generating $357.8M in 2019. Manufacturers of apparel—from small, emerging brands like SheFly to larger favorites like Turtle Fur—cater to this ever-growing audience. Manufacturers of equipment and other products, like Renoun Skis, Terry Bicycles, and Vermont Sailing Partners, operate small-scale businesses with national and global customer bases. The Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance serves as an organizational resource for these businesses and as a network that can facilitate outdoor community connections.
Scores of Vermont businesses combine education and outdoor recreation, building skills and ensuring safe experiences for residents and visitors in the outdoors. Whether it’s skiing, sailing, climbing, or horseback riding, there are instructors and schools in every region of the state providing introductory to master-level training. Guided experiences like hiking and biking tours, hot air balloon rides, and sky diving excursions also make for big business in Vermont, with some, like Vermont Bicycle Tours, enjoying a global audience.
Vermont’s colleges and universities offer degree and certificate programs as well as registered apprenticeships that train tomorrow’s outdoor recreation business leaders. Curriculums are tailored to the emerging needs of employers and designed to upskill and reskill students and professionals for promising high-demand careers manufacturing and business, providing Vermont businesses with a pipeline of skilled workers that help keep the industry growing and thriving into the future.
Outdoor recreation management programs offer the specialized training necessary to run successful businesses and facilities, while credentials in digital marketing and public relations help transition companies to a virtual marketplace. Industrial engineers design the sustainable products of the future, positioning Vermont companies on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. Programs in Vermont include:
- Castleton University‘s Resort & Hospitality Management degree program
- Northern Vermont University‘s Outdoor Education & Leadership, Mountain Resort Management, and Therapeutic Wilderness & Adventure degree programs
- Sterling College‘s Outdoor Education degree program
- University of Vermont‘s Parks, Recreation & Tourism degree program
Interested in the outdoor recreation industry but don’t know where to start?
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Outdoor Recreation in Vermont
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