• Navigator
  • Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis

Exploring Recreation-Based Impact Analysis

April 22, 2021 Jessica Tagliafierro

Last month, Rachel Selsky authored an article titled Surveying Tips for Recreation Based Impact Analysis. Surveys and other tools are invaluable resources for collecting data and information needed to model the economic impact of recreation events and destinations. What happens though once the survey is closed and all data is collected? Here we take a closer look at the uses and types of recreation based impact analyses.

Recreation assets generate benefits for their communities in attracting visitors who would otherwise not be there. Visitors who come for a particular activity or event spend money in the local economy beyond the direct price of admission (if applicable). Direct spending in the local community at restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, and on transportation and lodging multiplies creating indirect and induced impacts. Indirect impacts result from business-to-business spending throughout the supply chain. Indirect impacts occur as employees spend their earnings in the economy, further multiplying the impacts.

Uses of recreation-based impact analyses:

  • Grant and other funding applications: Oftentimes, grant applications for a project require information related to the number of jobs to be created,  as well as new wages and sales to be generated. This information, and other findings, can be calculated through an impact analysis.
  • Marketing: Findings from an impact analysis can be used to help market your destination or asset. Summarizing the results of an analysis in a visually appealing infographic that can be distributed through your regular marketing channels is an effective way for recreation destinations to use findings from an impact analysis.
  • Local support: Quantifying the impact of a recreation asset can help make the case for continued support of the asset. In cases of new development, an impact analysis may be a requirement for approval from local planning boards and other entities.
  • Decision making: Struggling to decide whether or not to move forward with an expansion of a recreation asset, event, or destination? An impact analysis can help quantify what the current impacts of the asset are and compare to what the future impacts could be if expansion were to occur.

​Types of recreation based impact analyses:

  • Trail-based assets (snowmobile trails, ATV trails, rail trails, byways etc.): Assessing the economic impact of a trail-based asset can help communities or regions quantify a benefit that many know exists, but that at times can feel intangible. These types of analysis can be used to demonstrate the benefit of these assets to the public and other critical stakeholders and can help to generate community support for the continued investment of resources into these assets.
  • Hospitality destinations (hotel and resort destinations, casinos, farm-based day- and overnight-visitor destinations, etc.): Understanding the potential economic impact of hospitality destinations can be a critical component of the location decision process. Additionally, when conducted on existing destinations, findings can be used for marketing or to justify expansion plans.
  • Event spaces (mixed-use, community spaces, sporting complexes, theaters, arenas etc.): Calculating the economic impact of a single event or of the annual impact of an event space is a great way to advocate for funding or to promote the space.
  • Other events and destinations (museums, racetracks, the sky is the limit!): If people use it/visit it/attend it, the impact can be measured!

These are just a few of the many ways recreation based impact analysis can be used.



Image Source: Unsplash