File photo

File photo

Outdoor recreation generates close to $1 billion annually in Fraser Valley: report

Camping, hiking and sportfishing generate the most spending, report finds

Nearly $1 billion is spent every year on outdoor recreation activities in the Fraser Valley, according to a new report.

An economic analysis commissioned by the Fraser Valley Regional District shows that camping, hiking and trail running, and sportfishing generate the most spending in the region’s thriving outdoor tourism sector.

In total, about $950 million is spent annually on outdoor recreation in the region, according to the report, which was written by a trio of consulting companies and financed by local tourism boards.

Locals spend about two-thirds of that money, but people visiting from outside the Fraser Valley spend nearly $300 million each year on outdoor recreation.

The report says the revenue generated by the sector highlights its important and suggests that the region is increasingly seen as an important outdoor destination.

“Compared with world-recognized outdoor recreation regions such as Vancouver’s North Shore, the Sea to Sky corridor, and the Canadian Rockies, the FVRD has not traditionally been considered a major outdoor recreation destination. The results of this analysis suggest, however, that this may be changing.

“The diversity of activities, relative lack of crowding, and world-class recreation assets all suggest there is a strong opportunity to sustainably manage outdoor recreation in the region.”

Camping is the top revenue activity. Each year, about $230 million is spent on overnighting in the great outdoors. Locals spend about $146 million, while visitors spend around $84 million.

No other activities come close to that level of economic activity. Sport fishing ($163 million) and hiking/trail running ($137 million) are the only activities with more than $100 million in annual spending.

Notably, about three-quarters of the sport-fishing spending is by locals, while hiking/trail running generates a more even split, with residents spending around $74 million and visitors dropping $64 million locally on the activity.

Among 14 activities with more than $10 million in total annual revenue, only one saw visitors spend more than residents: The broad category of “nature interpretations/ecotours/wildlife viewing” saw visitors spend about $10 million compared to the $6 million generated by residents.

The report noted that three of the four activities that generated the most revenue could be considered “soft” activities” that are accessible to large numbers of people.

“Compared with other destinations, the FVRD possesses significantly more opportunities than challenges, with only a few activity sectors having sporadic issues with lacking infrastructure (parking, staging, wayfinding/signage, facilities) and user crowding,” the report concludes. “However, unlike other recreation destinations that have faced carrying capacity issues due to internal challenges (crowding/congestion, competing demands for resources), the FVRD will likely face more issues in its external environment that are beyond its control: climate change, resource scarcity, and now possibly future health pandemic issues.”

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