Fast Facts / Tourism and Recreation
Tourism and Recreation
Tourism and recreation support a wide range of businesses in the nation’s shore-adjacent zip codes, from restaurants, hotels, aquariums, and marinas to boat manufacturers and sporting goods stores. The following facts are based on the latest available economic data1 (2018).
2.5 Million People
Almost 2.5 million people are employed by ocean-based tourism and recreation.
$66 Billion Earnings
Workers in the ocean-based tourism and recreation sector earned about $65.6 billion in annual wages.
$143 Billion GDP
Ocean-based tourism and recreation contributes approximately $143 billion in gross domestic product to the national economy each year.
*Note: Economics: National Ocean Watch (ENOW) is a NOAA economics database on the Digital Coast that features time-series data focused on the six economic sectors that are dependent on the oceans and Great Lakes. ENOW's tourism and recreation statistics are good indicators of coastal and ocean tourism because they estimate the ocean-dependent portion of business for hotels and restaurants by including only those establishments located in shore-adjacent zip code areas, and they exclude all forms of sports and entertainment that are not ocean-related.
Statistics for the leisure and hospitality sector, on the other hand, include all hotels and restaurants located anywhere in a shore-adjacent county, many of which are far from the coast and have very little business connected to ocean tourism. These statistics also include activities associated with all forms of sports and entertainment, including sports arenas (e.g., professional baseball and football stadiums), Broadway plays, casinos, and racetracks.