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Research Studies Related to Snowmobiling Impacts


Snowmobilers in the United States and Canada spend over $28 billion on snowmobiling each year according to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA). This includes expenditures on equipment, clothing, accessories, snowmobiling vacations, etc. Surveys show that, on average, snowmobilers taking overnight trips (24% of those surveyed) take three to five trips per year, spending two nights per trip away from home.

Snowmobiling is responsible for "spin-off" economic benefits such as:
  • Jobs for tens of thousands of people; jobs which enable those people to further stimulate the economy through additional expenditures on goods and services; jobs which provide significant income tax revenues to State and Federal treasuries and dramatically reduce unemployment and welfare payments.
  • Millions of dollars in tax revenues derived from snowmobile-related businesses (including, but not limited to manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, dealers, resort and hotel facilities, restaurants, service stations, insurance agencies, hardware stores, banks, credit unions, etc.).
  • Millions of dollars in winter tourism.
  • Spending which support local Snowbelt economies.
  • Millions of dollars in local and State sales and gas tax revenues.
  • Snowmobiling has rejuvenated the economies of many communities.
Because of the economic benefits of snowmobiling to local communities, State and local travel bureaus and tourism agencies are now actively promoting snowmobile tourism through such means as the production of snowmobile information guides and trail maps and the establishment of toll free numbers with information on snowmobiling opportunities and conditions.

The economic benefits of snowmobiling to local communities and States are very significant. Many States have commissioned studies to determine specific economic impacts, which can be an extremely beneficial tool when working for snowmobiling access and favorable snowmobiling legislation.

Economic benefits may vary from State-to-State or region-to-region within States based upon ratios of local/resident riders (lower total spending) versus levels of non-resident and non-area riders (higher total trip expenditures). Results may also vary based upon research study methodologies and how local spending multipliers are applied to survey results. It is also important to recognize that visitor spending typically has grown quickly (rising costs of fuel, lodging, equipment, etc.), so studies should be regularly updated every five to ten years to remain valid. A sampling of State survey results includes:

Alaska: The economic impact of snowmobiling in the Anchorage and Mat-Su Borough was found to be over $35 million annually, according to a study conducted by the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., which was released in May 2000.

Iowa: Iowa State University completed an Economic Impact report in 2005 on snowmobiling in Iowa. Their report shows snowmobiling generated $65.4 million in economic activity resulting in 899 jobs.

Maine: In 1998 the University of Maine and the Maine Snowmobile Association conducted a study showing the economic impact of snowmobiling on Maine to be $261 million.

Massachusetts: The University of Massachusetts found the economic impact of snowmobiling to be $54.7 million annually in a study conducted in 2003.

Michigan: Michigan State University completed an assessment of snowmobiling impacts in the State of Michigan for the Michigan Department of Parks and Recreation in February 1998. The survey showed that the average snowmobiler in Michigan spends $4,218 annually on snowmobiling activity, equipment, and vacationing within the state of Michigan. Additionally, over $1 billion in economic impact is generated and over 6,455 full time jobs are created by snowmobiling in Michigan.

Minnesota: The University of Minnesota Tourism Center completed an analysis of the snowmobile industry in Minnesota in 2005 and reported the snowmobile industry generates substantial tax revenues at the state and local level. Over $51 million in taxes were paid at the local and State level directly related to snowmobiling activity.

Montana: University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research study titled Montana Recreational Snowmobiles: Fuel-Use and Spending Patterns 2013 determined snowmobiling generates $110.6 million annually in Montana. Nonresident snowmobilers spend about $147 per activity day on food, lodging and snowmobile rental costs generating an aggregate of nearly $14.3 million per year. Resident snowmobilers’ annual spending totals about $96.3 million with over half attributed to gasoline for snowmobiles and transportation to riding areas. Resident and nonresident snowmobilers together buy about 4.3 million gallons of gasoline per season, generating over $1.2 million for the state highway trust fund.

New Hampshire: Plymouth State University and New Hampshire Snowmobile Association conducted a study in 2004 showing the economic impact of snowmobiling in the State of New Hampshire to be $1.2 billion annually.

New York: The New York State Snowmobile Association, in cooperation with SUNY Potsdam, performed an economic impact analysis in 1998 showing that the economic impact of snowmobiling in New York State was estimated to be $476.2 million. In 2003 the State of New York surveyed snowmobilers in New York and calculated the economic impact of snowmobiling in New York had increased to $875 million annually - an increase of 84% in 5 years! Another economic assessment undertaken by the SUNY Potsdam Institute for Applied Research during the winter of 2011-2012 – which was an extremely poor snow year in New York State – shows that the sport of snowmobiling continues to deliver an economic impact of more than $860 million to New York State annually. Consequently, even when lower than average snowfalls across the state didn’t allow snowmobilers to spend the usual amount of time on their sleds, snowmobiler spending remained significant. Results of this economic assessment show that on average, a New York State snowmobiler spends more than $3,000 individually every year for snowmobile related activities. 2011-12
North Dakota: Development of the North Dakota Snowmobile Program Strategic Plan (2008-2012) included an assessment process that identified snowmobiling trends and issues. This assessment was conducted by Agency MABU in the summer and fall of 2007 and included face-to-face or phone interviews with several key leaders affiliated with Snowmobile North Dakota and a public input survey to assess strategic issues and activities for North Dakota’s snowmobile program.

Pennsylvania: The Lebanon Valley College of Pennsylvania, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania State Snowmobile Association, conducted an updated economic impact study in 2000 showing the annual economic impact of snowmobiling in Pennsylvania to be approximately $161 million.

South Dakota: A 2011 study by the University of South Dakota found that the snowmobiling industry generates approximately $131.6 million in annual economic impact to South Dakota. Snowmobile trails were found to be a valuable state resource and study findings included:
  • More than $15 million in lodging, restaurants, gaming, and other trip-related spending
  • Over $58 million in revenues to South Dakota snowmobile retailers and distributors
  • Direct and indirect support of over 1,400 full-time jobs.

Utah: A 2001 Economic and Social Assessment of snowmobiling in Utah conducted by Utah State University determined the following: total annual expenditures resulting from snowmobiling in Utah are about $52.6 million; 31% of Utah riders have college or technical training and an additional 31% have a B.A. or Graduate degree; and about 87% of Utah riders have not experienced any conflicts with other types of winter recreationists.

Vermont: The economic significance that the sport of snowmobiling has on the State of Vermont exceeded $600 million annually, according to a study by Johnson State College compiled in 2003.

Washington: In 2001 Washington State University and the Washington State Snowmobile Association conducted a snowmobile usage study that concluded the annual economic impact of snowmobiling in Washington was $92.7 million.

Wyoming: The 2011-2012 Wyoming Comprehensive Snowmobile Recreation Report was prepared by the University of Wyoming and analyzed monies spent on items like equipment, gasoline, service, lodging, and food. This study concluded that snowmobiling is responsible for $146.8 million in annual direct visitor spending which results in another $29.0 million in secondary activity in the Wyoming economy. The report estimates that this $175.8 million in total economic activity supports the equivalent of 1,300 annual jobs with labor income of $35.3 million. Additionally the report estimates snowmobiling generates $7.4 million in state and local government revenue in Wyoming.

A Summary of Key Findings indicates that $31.1 million in annual trip expenditures and $53.1 million in annual equipment expenditures are attributed to Wyoming residents while $30.4 million in trip expenditures and $10.9 million in annual equipment expenditures are attributed to nonresidents of Wyoming. The report also shows $21.3 million in annual trip expenditures by snowmobile outfitter clients (people on a guided trip or rental snowmobiles) while they are in Wyoming. Gasoline was cited as the largest trip cost for both resident and nonresident snowmobilers (46% and 33% respectively of average trip expenses) while lodging was the largest trip cost (31%) cited by outfitter clients.