Surf’s Up

Thousands of years of shifting sands and rocks and tides go into the perfect surf break. It’s not something humans can control. 100-metre long barrelling right-handers are a product of luck and nature.

A study from Australian National University analysed the economic impact of surf breaks on local communities. Quite simply, do beaches with consistently high-quality waves increase the likelihood of a town’s prosperity?

Looking at 5,288 breaks across 146 countries, good surf is indeed beneficial to surrounding towns. A quality surf break adds 2.2% to local GDP on average. It may seem obvious on the surface but this proof is important as a development tool.

Surf-tourism was booming pre-Covid. The industry generated up to US$64.9b annually before travel restrictions. The researchers observed how important discovering new breaks in driving tourism and supporting the area, especially in developing countries. They go on to suggest government investment is centred around such beaches.

The discovery of surf breaks in Namibia, Mexico and Chile doubled the local community’s growth. In Portugal and Spain, two breaks disappeared after river dredging nearby disrupted the sea bed’s structure. Despite the dredging projects intending to increase economic growth, both areas saw a 2% dip in prosperity.

Surfers hold a lot of economic influence it seems. The growth in artificial wave centres reveals this.