OIA Adds 2008 Participation Data

6 04 2009

The Outdoor Industry Association has published more participation data for kayaking and canoeing in their new Outdoor Recreation ParticipationTopline Report, 2009, adding 2008 data to those published earlier in their 2008 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report.  The news isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either.

Whitewater kayaking participation is down slightly, but not drastically.  The graph from the earlier data posted below now looks like this:

This report has some demographic data, which looks like this:

For some reason the 2006 data from this report disagrees with the number reported by OIA earlier. In other figures for recreational and sea kayaking indicate that the former is still growing strongly, while the latter is shrinking somewhat.

The better news is that canoeing is enjoying a small amount of growth, as shown below.  Note that canoeing still has higher participation numbers than all forms of kayaking combined.

This supports my iconoclastic theory that open canoeing remains the basis of whitewater paddling, providing the ideal vehicle with which to introduce newcomers to the sport as well as the broad, purchasing base of the commercial pyramid.


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One response to “OIA Adds 2008 Participation Data”

9 12 2009
James McBeath (12:14:19) :

Bill,
In 2009 World Kayak did its own surveys… paddlers, schools and instructors. Our findings showed a HUGE separation from that of the OIA… so we investigated. Unfortunately the OIA stats do not accomodate certain key elements of our sport and industry…

A) A good bit of these participation stats and conclusions are based on new boat sales! World Kayak has specifically challenged this after finding that only 20% of paddlers actually buy new boats as their first boat. Indeed most buy new for their third boat! Basing industry growth on new boat sales just doesnt work for whitewater kayaking.
B) We requested to know which regions were solicited in these surveys. The reply was, er, interesting. The studies missed 4 of our sports major regions! You cannot do surveys in a random fashion and represent whitewater. There are outdoor regions with no whitewater at all… coorelating those numbers into the survey will bring the average for participation down. In 2008 they incorporated MORE paddling regions and numbers were higher as a result.
C) The big one… in 2008 the average WW paddler went out 5 times that summer. In 2009 the average paddler went out 10 to 15 times. So why the discrepancy? Simple… water levels! 2008 SUCKED for water levels all over the Eastern regions! The drought conditions were never considered in the studies that the OIA does. Drought makes participation numbers go down and it also makes new participant numbers go down too… We found that 70% of new boaters are brought into the industry by friends who paddle… if friends arent paddling, they certainly arent bringin in new boaters.

I will be posting our study results shortly… you’ll see that we are indeed experiencing great participation and movement is towards growth. It is also VERY important that our messages are positive. Check my comments and some stats on my Symposium overview: http://worldkayakblogs.com/jamesmcbeath/2009/10/07/whitewater-symposium-a-new-positive-era-the-wk-position/

cheers, James.

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