DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Boating in Ohio has skyrocketed since the pandemic in 2020, which has raked big money into the state.

According to a survey conducted in 2022 for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, an estimated $6.4 billion was brought into the state economy. Registration numbers have exploded from around 593,000 in 2020 to 653,000 in 2022, which can be attributed to the pandemic.

Craig Watson, ODNR Division of Watercraft Boating Education Grants Coordinator, said, “People during COVID had a chance to get outdoors more, reconnect with nature and with their families. And I think people may have just gotten a little lost and getting busy all the time.”

That number includes local boat dealers, who are also seeing the surge.

Pam Poteat, Marine Sales Lodder’s parts and service manager, said, “Huge rush when the pandemic was going on, as far as boat sales, and then since then, you know, it slowed off a little bit and now it’s picking back up.”

An incentive to get on the water is that a majority of respondents to the survey live within 20 minutes of a waterway.

Watson said, “So everybody’s in a pretty short distance to be able and get out, whether it’s paddling or going to one of our bigger inland waters and taking out your powerboat or even, you know, navigating our intercoastal waterways through the Ohio River.”

While it can be a family activity, keeping life jackets on is important when in the open waters.

Watson said, “You never know when you’re going to end up in the water and you need to have the PFD [personal flotation device] on for it to be effective.”

Watson reminds people to have fun, and to not drink and boat so everyone gets home safe.