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.
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.
Idaho: A 2017 report by Boise State University estimated that snowmobile owners spent over $197.5 million on snowmobiles, related equipment, fuel, lodging, food and other retail items between July 2015 and June 2016. This spending is estimated to support 4,062 jobs while generating $108.2 million in labor income, while increasing value added by $160.7 million and output of locally produced goods and services by $157.3 million.
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: The Economic Contribution of Snowmobiling in Maine report was prepared by the University of Maine in collaboration with the Maine Snowmobile Association and Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. It concluded that snowmobiling generated $459 million in direct spending across many sectors during the 2018-2019 winter season. Accounting for indirect and induced economic activity, the contribution of snowmobiling to Maine’s economy was over $606 million. Snowmobile related spending also directly supports 2,279 jobs in the state of Maine and indirect and induced effects of the spending support an additional 1,060 jobs.
Trip-related spending accounted for approximately $209.5 million, or about 46%, of the total direct spending for the 2018-2019 season. Trip-related expenditures include but are not limited to, gas/oil for a snowmobile, gas/oil for a tow vehicle, restaurant purchase, souvenirs, clothing purchased during the trip, and overnight accommodations. The greatest amount of direct spending in a single category was for snowmobile purchases, which generated approximately $132 million in direct spending.
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!
- 2011-12 Snowmobile Owners Survey
- Profile of Snowmobiling Households
- Discussion of the Snowmobile Owners Survey
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.
Oregon: A 2015 survey conducted by Oregon State University found that Oregon resident snowmobilers are estimated to engage in 352,500 snowmobile use days while spending an estimated $15 million per year on their day and multi-day snowmobiling trips. When combined with trip expenditures by out-of-state snowmobilers riding in Oregon, total spending is estimated to exceed $18 million, support 155 jobs, and generate approximately $5 million in labor income and $7.7 million in value added.
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 2017 analysis of The Economic Impact of Snowmobiling in Utah conducted by the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at Utah State University determined that 79% of resident Utah snowmobilers’ activities involved 8-hour-long daytrips, while 21% were overnight trips that averaged being 2.9 days long. This snowmobiling activity generated $138.2 million in local industry sales, $88.4 million in value added to the state’s economy, 1,378 Utah jobs which generate $59.9 million in labor income, and over $13 million annually in state and local tax revenues. It also found that Utah riders are highly educated, 35% having some college or technical training with an additional 53% having a Bachelor’s degree or higher. The average trip covered 67 miles while the average rider was a 54-year-old white male with an average of 3.4 snowmobiles per household. Notably, two-thirds of riders reported a household income of $90,000 or more. Additionally, nearly 70% of responding households stated no one in their household had ever taken a snowmobile education course and no one in 57% of these households had ever taken an avalanche education course.
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.
Other Research Studies
- Air Quality / Emissions
- Personal Exposure
- Recreation Conflicts
- Snow and Trail Conditions
- Vegetation and Soil/Snow Compaction
- Water Quality – including Snowpack and Snowmelt
- Wildlife – General Wildlife and Nature
- Wildlife – Birds, Bears and Caribou
- Wildlife – Deer, Elk, Moose and Reindeer
- Wildlife – Lynx
- Wildlife – Carnivores, Coyotes, Goats, Sheep, Rabbits and Subnivean
- Wildlife – Wolverine