Last week at the Global Wave Conference in San Sebastian, Spain, the Surfrider Foundation and Surf-First released the inaugural U.S. Surf Economics Report, which provides demographic and economic characterizations of surfers at the national, regional, state and surf break levels. The report is designed assist coastal activists in demonstrating the importance of surfers to coastal economies.
Below is a summary of the report’s top findings:
#1: Surfers are not unemployed kids
The surfers in the sample of over 5,360 respondents are in their early 30’s, highly educated (62% have a college degree), highly employed and well paid (median household income is $75,000).
#2: Surfers surf a lot
Surfers are avid coastal users; over half of the surfers surveyed make more than 100 visits to the coast per year.
#3: Surfers stimulate local economies
Surfers spend on average $66 per visit to the coast, contributing between 2 and 5 billion dollars to local economies annually.
Surfers have historically been considered a fringe group and often marginalized or ignored compared with other sectors of coastal tourism and recreation. Surfing has now evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry but we know little about this segment of coastal users. Efforts seeking to describe current economics and demographics of surfers in the United States have been limited by lack of data. The Surfrider Foundation, with support from Surfing Magazine, created the Surf-First Surfer Survey to collect a national dataset on the recreational, demographic and economic characteristics of surfers. By collecting these data for surfers in the U.S., we have developed national, regional, and area-specific profiles of surfers and describe their economic impacts. This information provides the first national characterization of surfers and assesses the economic contribution of surfer visits to specific locations. These results can inform coastal management decision-making and show that surfers are an important segment of the coastal tourism sector.
Data for the Surfrider Foundation/Surf-First Surf Economics Report was conducted as an opt-in Internet-based user survey from November 2008 to September 2009, and was advertised through a number of surf forecasting websites. To read the full report, visit: http://bit.ly/us_surfecon.