MADE X MTNS Publishes Western North Carolina Outdoor Recreation Participation Survey and Regional Economic Impacts Report

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The MADE X MTNS (Made By Mountains) Partnership is proud to release the results of the Western North Carolina Outdoor Recreation Participation Survey, conducted in partnership with the Center for Economic Research & Policy Analysis at Appalachian State University and the Institute of Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana, to establish a foundational dataset supporting the economic impact of outdoor recreation participation in the region. 

The survey results reflect $4.9 billion in economic output, 48,000 full-time jobs created, and $197.5 million in county-level tax revenues across the region, all generated through outdoor recreation. The survey also focused on the average amount of time and money that visitors spent during visits to the region, as well as popular outdoor recreation activities, including: day hiking, nature viewing, scenic driving, fishing, vehicle camping, motorized boating, backpacking, and mountain biking.

“These results go beyond numbers; they’re a driving force for the region’s progress. Using this momentum, we aim to support a brighter, healthier future for WNC communities and economies. Providing our communities with this data empowers them to tell a complete story to advocate effectively for opportunities to advance their outdoor recreation priorities,” says MADE X MTNS Partnership Director, Amy Allison.

The Western North Carolina (WNC) Outdoor Recreation Participation Survey targeted outdoor recreation participants across 25 counties and the Qualla Boundary, and successfully captured insights from 1,786 respondents from key states— Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia—representing visitors to WNC.

“The researcher-created survey of visitation to the region generates economic modeling and provides a comprehensive analysis of the economic values associated with outdoor recreation across the region that shows demand,” says Center for Economic Research and Policy Analysis Director, Ash Morgan. “This unique data is valuable in helping individual counties better understand the economic contribution of their outdoor recreation infrastructure, and can be used to aid future decision making with respect to the potential benefits of investments in future opportunities.”

The Building Outdoor Communities Program of the MADE X MTNS Partnership supports Western North Carolina’s community leaders to better leverage their natural assets and collaborate to advance their outdoor community and economic development goals, centered around healthy people and places, by aligning key stakeholders, identifying priorities, and developing implementation guidance to advance the work at the county and regional scale. The MADE X MTNS Partnership is excited to expand upon this important work in 2024 by welcoming a new team member, Allison Smith, who joins the team via the Economic Recovery Corps Fellowship, a program launched in 2023 through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).


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