"A 2011 survey concluded that about 3.3 million people surf 108 times per year & contribute at least $2 billion to the U.S. economy annually. The average surfer was male, in his 30's, well-educated & employed full-time, defying the stereotype of a surfer as young, uneducated & jobless.
“The report is to demonstrate that, hey, there’s a lot of surfers in the U.S. They go to the beach a lot, and they spend a lot of money in these communities,” Nelsen said. “Therefore, you should take their interests seriously."
The assumption is often that surfing is worth zero dollars,” said Nelsen, environmental director for the Surf*rider Foundation. “It’s taken for granted. It’s not perceived as being a viable and important source of economics, particularly with decision makers in coastal zone management that we’re talking to all the time.
Save The Waves has since produced two studies evaluating the economic value of surf breaks, in partnership with academics at Stanford University, the University of Oregon and the University of Hawaii. Mavericks, an epicenter of big-wave surfing in Half Moon Bay, Calif., is worth $23.9 million annually in a report produced in 2010. A wave at Mundaka, off the coast of southern Spain, brings in about $4.5 million to the local economy each year, according to a 2007 study.
“These waves are our Yosemite Valleys,” Nelsen said. He believes they deserve the same considerations and protections. “We think of these as national treasures.”
The same way national parks set use restrictions on select areas, surfers are beginning to induct unique wave breaks into what they call World Surfing Reserves. The designation was created in 2009 by Save The Waves and modeled on an Australian organization called National Surfing Reserves that has had success coordinating protection plans with government officials for about a dozen surf breaks. What is often lacking is the financial element — key to swaying decision makers, said Neil Lazarow, an economist who evaluated surfing on Australia’s famed Gold Coast.
Colgan thinks the rise in coastal tourism is partly because of the economic downturn driving people to cheaper housing inland. Because it is too expensive to live where they can surf, people are traveling farther to do so.
“As growth is shifting inland and people are traveling to the coast from further inland, the idea of surfing as just a cultural issue on the coast needs to be shifted,” Colgan said. “It’s not about that one stretch of beach. It affects a larger geographical area.”
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Aug 30, 2012, 11:55 AM #1
Surfonomics quantifies the worth of waves
Last edited by yankee; Aug 30, 2012 at 11:57 AM.
Aug 30, 2012, 01:23 PM #2Junior Member
- Join Date
- Jun 2012
Interesting article but skeptical that 3.3mln people surf at least 100 times a year..he estimated this from a survey of 5000 people?
Aug 30, 2012, 04:01 PM #3
I thought the very interesting thing is, and the author points this out, is that a paradigm shift has started to occur in the way that the waves are viewed. Money makers, plain & simple, revenue generation in every way. The local govts want those retail sales tax dollars from the influx of visitors / surfers. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Perhaps coastal communities will construct more piers, jetties, berms....? With the goal being to generate breaks, i.e., in the govt mind that means revenue for years & years.
Aug 30, 2012, 05:11 PM #4
yeah, interesting article. to me, though, the most 'valuable' waves generate the least amount of revenue (cuz they're undiscovered and empty).
Aug 30, 2012, 05:27 PM #5
The deeper question that you bring up....what is value, really, and can it always be measured in terms of coinage ?
You're getting philosophical on a Thursday, Cresto.
Aug 30, 2012, 05:33 PM #6
- Join Date
- Jan 2009
- milton delaware
Those days are long gone, and these days the anti-hard-structure mentality has had 40 years to crystallize from a viewpoint to a truth. Keep saying something and eventually it becomes fact. Many people were shocked that two groins were rebuilt (same footprint, same dimensions) in Delaware a few years ago, and the project actually restored conditions effectively. I cant imagine any town on the east coast even considering brand new stone or timber groins where they dont already exist. The environmental backlash would be extreme, and its a shame because under the right condtions they can be pretty effective, and cost effective.
Aug 30, 2012, 06:23 PM #7
"Mavericks, an epicenter of big-wave surfing in Half Moon Bay, Calif., is worth $23.9 million annually in a report produced in 2010."
how many people actually surf mavs? a few hundred? a few dozen? so it's not surfers spending all of that money. must be $pectators. and spectators only go there cuz there's surfers to watch. from a monetary worth perspective the wave is only 'valuable' because there are surfers on it. no surfers, no value?
Aug 30, 2012, 08:23 PM #8Senior Member
- Join Date
- Jun 2012
it seems that "worth" and "value" are in this case directly related to size and quantity of contests, not actually wave quality. Mavericks hosts a bunch of big wave events with big name sponsors like redbull. Mundaka is home to the ASP euro event once a year. I have surfed some waves down dirt roads in 3rd world countries that beat the hell out of many "contest waves". $ and surfing mix worse than oil and water
Aug 30, 2012, 08:32 PM #9
Mitchell is right, straight line Groins/Jetties are "old school", one side is good for surfing and the other side suffers depending on long shore drift of sand. Our Atlantic beaches (NJ,DE & VA) groins/jetties were constructed under the old philosophy/science of pre & post WWII era. The Army Corp. has implemented new technology of groin construction beyond the vertical line to prevent erosion/sand retention by angling the groin or adding "spurs" to direct the sand where its needed in order not to interrupt long shore sand drift and/or starve shoreline of sand.
These projects are extremely expensive in the millions yet another promising less expensive approach is using "Sand Tubes" (tubes filled with sand) to accomplish the same task without the enormous overhead that has been successful in Florida. The most difficult task, any new groin or a repair of an existing groin has to be "blessed" by the Army Corp. so when they submit the Appropriations Budget to Congress, the "Hill" authorizes 10 Billion for projects which normally only funds a fraction of projects that are forced rank to the top of the list either by necessity and/or Congressional influence. Kudos to those in the article for raising the bar on the true value of our waves and the success of a few that saved the day as a lesson to us all the benefits of active dialog with those who don't pay any attention to us because we have always remained silent, that has to change, just say'n