Opportunity for Growth
The Outdoor Recreation sector in Sonoma County is comprised of more than 350 outdoor recreational businesses across a broad array of activities, including biking, hiking, golfing, water sports, and equestrian activities. The County is also home to nationally-recognized outdoor recreation manufacturers— Athleta, CamelBak, Marmot, Kitsbow Cycling Apparel, Moose Boats, and Yuba Bikes.
Embracing outdoor recreation businesses and the activities they support offers a lucrative opportunity for the county’s tourism industry and the local economy, because outdoor enthusiasts annually spend $85.4 billion on outdoor recreation in California.
Sonoma County is well-known as a high-end tourist destination due to its internationally-recognized wine industry and scenic beauty. The county’s $1.6 billion tourism industry supports 11 percent of the workforce, and is directly tied to the success of the local economy. The continued success of the county’s tourism industry and our local economy relies heavily on our ability to create unique experiences that not only attracts new visitors, but encourages them to return.
In a 2013 Sonoma County Tourism report, tourism businesses identified cycling and eco-tourism as two promising areas for growth for the county. These results reflect the tourism industry’s desire to help grow the county’s array of outdoor recreation opportunities. With outdoor enthusiasts spending over $85 billion annually in California, there is certainly opportunity for growth in the residential and tourist markets.
EDB Sector Support
- In February 2014, the EDB hosted an outdoor recreation forum to gain a better understanding of this sector. The forum revealed that many outdoor recreation businesses see an opportunity to grow through targeted marketing and forming collaborative partnerships with other outdoor and tourism-related businesses.
- In March 2015, the EDB conducted a survey of the outdoor recreation sector and found that nearly two-thirds of businesses see “high potential” for Sonoma County to attract more outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Furthermore, nearly 80 percent would like see more promotion of Sonoma County as an outdoor recreation destination.
- In 2016, the EDB is joining with our tourism and outdoor recreation businesses to launch an Outdoor Recreation Business Council (ORBC) to address key issues and emerging opportunities within this sector. The key goals of the ORBC will be to:
- Connect with other businesses within the industry for strength in numbers
- Develop high-impact initiatives to cultivate the outdoor recreation and hospitality sectors
- Tackle issues and opportunities related to workforce development, permits, licensing, etc.
- Enjoy the benefits of shared resources and experience
- Be a valued voice representing some of the fastest-growing sectors in the count
For more information about how to get involved, please contact the Economic Development Board at (707) 565-7170.
Outdoor Recreation at your Doorstep
Planning an excursion to Sonoma County to enjoy the beautiful outdoors? Sonoma County Regional Parks offers more than 50 of the most scenic area parks you’ll ever find with 150 miles of trails to hike, camp, bike, kayak, or just take a moment to take it all in. These parks provide a great playground for Outdoor Recreation enthusiasts and take you through mountains, redwood groves, valleys, lakes and rivers.
- To find a Regional Park near you, visit the Regional Parks Find a Park page.
To enhance your outdoor experience Sonoma County is also home to eleven California State parks which offer a variety of landscapes and terrain to challenge even the most diehard outdoors peson.
Note: A number of these outdoor recreation areas were made possible by the Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District, created in 1990 to “permanently protect the greenbelts, scenic view sheds, farms and ranches and natural areas of Sonoma County.”