Economic Impact, Importance Of Snowmobiling In Idaho

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An economic impact conducted by Boise State University as commissioned by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, shows just how big snowmobiling is in the state of Idaho.

Here is the executive summary from the study. We’ll go into more depth in future issues of SnoWest Magazine.

Snowmobiling provides a major recreational opportunity in Idaho given the State’s climatic conditions and mountainous terrain. In addition to the enjoyment provided by snowmobiling, it generates significant impacts in terms of employment and economic activity in many counties and for the State as a whole. In order to estimate the economic importance of snowmobiling in Idaho, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR) contracted with the Department of Economics at Boise State University (BSU) to perform this study of snowmobiling on a county-by-county basis and statewide.

The economic impacts from snowmobiling stem from expenditures on items such as snowmobiles themselves, trailers, parts, and related equipment and as well as from spending that occurs when snowmobiling trips are made. We used the population of registrations that were in the IDPR system in July of 2015 to create a sample of households to be surveyed. We also used the same population to extrapolate the findings of our surveys and estimate the annual economic significance and impact of snowmobiling. We find that:

  • 35,564 snowmobiles were registered in Idaho (including those registered by businesses).
  • We estimate that these snowmobiles were taken on 190,675 trips. Of these, 162,817 were day trips and 27,858 were overnight trips.
  • The 18,023 households that own one or more snowmobiles spent approximately $197.5 million on

- Snowmobiles and Related Equipment: $57.0 million

- Maintenance and Repair: $4.8 million

- Fuel: $42 million

- Lodging (including camping): $17 million

- Food and Beverages: $44 million

- Storage $0.4 million

- Other Retail: $31 million

As expected, snowmobile ownership and usage are concentrated in the most populated counties and those that have favorable terrain and winter conditions: Ada, Bannock, Bonneville, Canyon, Kootenai, Twin Falls, and Valley. Ada County ranks highest in terms of spending on three snowmobiles and related equipment but was not among the top counties in terms of trip related expenditures. Valley and Fremont counties do not rank among the top counties in terms of expenditures on snowmobiles and related equipment, but rank first and second respectively in the state in terms of total expenditures due to large trip related (fuel, lodging and food) expenditures. Valley, Fremont and Ada are the top three counties in terms of total spending on snowmobiling.

The primary purpose of the study is to estimate the economic impact of snowmobiling activity in the State. This is measured as the amount of employment, income, and output that is directly and indirectly related to the spending on snowmobiling. Snowmobile owners spent over $197.5 million on snowmobiles, related equipment, fuel, lodging, food, and other retail during the 12-month period of July 2015-June 2016. The sales of the retailers increased and, as a result, the employment, income, and sales of local output increased. Some of this spending became income to the retailers selling these goods and services. The retailers and their employees were then able to increase their spending, thereby generating additional economic activity. Thus, the total economic impact of the $197.5 million in spending by snowmobile users on employment, income, and output is greater than the impact of just the spending by snowmobile owners. The results for the State can be summarized as follows. The spending of $197.5 million:

  • Increases employment by 4,062.
  • Increases labor income by $108.2 million.
  • Increases value added, which is the summation of labor income, interest, rent, and profit, by $160.7 million.
  • Increases output of locally produced goods and services by $157.3 million.

Finally, we repeat the above analysis (extrapolation of survey findings for estimating economic significance and impact of snowmobiling for the State) for the larger population of snowmobile registrations and households that were entered in the IDPR system by Aug. 1, 2016. This analysis has the advantage of capturing snowmobile registrations that occurred during the 2015-16 season, after July of 2015. Since this is not the population that the sample of surveys was drawn from, the estimated numbers may have a larger margin of error.

Using this larger population of snowmobiling registrations to extrapolate the findings of our surveys and estimate the annual economic significance and impact of snowmobiling, we find that:

  • 41,689 snowmobiles were registered in Idaho by August 1, 2016 (including those registered by businesses).
  • The 20,752 households in this larger population that own one or more snowmobiles spent approximately a total of $223.4 million on:

- Snowmobiles and Related Equipment: $61.6 million

- Maintenance and Repair: $5.5 million

- Fuel: $48.5 million

- Lodging (including camping): $19.4 million

- Food and Beverages: $51.2 million

- Storage $0.46 million

- Other Retail: $36.7 million

We find that the estimated household spending of $223.4 million:

  • Increases employment by 4,521.
  • Increases labor income by $118.3 million.
  • Increases value added, which is the summation of labor income, interest, rent, and profit, by $175 million.
  • Increases output of locally produced goods and services by $173.5 million.

The full text of the study is Here.

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