surfer in wave water

Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Unsplash

QUEENSLAND, Australia — Surfing contributes approximately one trillion dollars annually to the global economy, largely by enhancing surfers’ mental health, a recent study reveals. Researchers in Australia discovered that recreational surfing can lead to improved concentration at work, increased tourism, higher property values, and reduced healthcare system costs.

This research focused on Australia’s Gold Coast, estimating its economic benefits from surfing to be between $1 billion and $3.3 billion per year.

“The reason why there are such big numbers in the value of recreational activities like surfing for mental health benefits is that for almost every kind of job, you have to pay attention: for safety, skill, service, or decisions,” explains Professor Emeritus Ralf Buckley from Griffith University’s School of Environment and Science, in a media release. “If you are stressed and not paying proper attention, your job performance suffers, and that costs money for your employer or your business. Outdoor activities such as surfing reduce stress, as long as you can get a few good waves. Surfing has a powerful psychological effect and that has a substantial value.”

Surfer riding waves in Santa Cruz, one of the beaches for surfing in the U.S.
Surfer riding waves in Santa Cruz, one of the beaches for surfing in the U.S. (Photo by Jeff Nissen on Unsplash)

To arrive at these findings, the team adapted economic models used for parks to the context of surfing. They conclude that if surfing lowers stress levels from high to low, it could result in a 10-percent boost in workplace productivity and a similar reduction in mental healthcare costs. This stress reduction through surfing is valued at about $5,000 per person annually.

The researchers note that improved mental health from surfing can influence major life decisions like where to live and work preferences, leading to secondary economic impacts, such as on property prices.

“The economic value of surf amenities also overlaps with beach amenities more broadly,” Buckley states. “Taking all these factors into account, we estimated the mental health value of surfing for our case study site, the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. The Gold Coast is a beach tourist destination, and its economy is driven largely by real estate, tourism, and trade and professional services such as building, healthcare, and education.”

According to the study, mental health benefits account for 57 to 74 percent of surfing’s total economic benefits.

“Our research also contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG14, which focuses on oceans. Therefore, the economic value of surfing supports the argument for conserving our coastlines,” concluded Professor Buckley.

The findings are published in NPJ Ocean Sustainability.

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South West News Service writer Isobel Williams contributed to this report. 

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  1. Jake says:

    Several of these are simply about choices….

    I’m 41 now. Not much has changed in the last 15 years. I joined the military at 17. Bought my first car a few months later thanks to that paycheck. Used military tuition assistance and later my GI Bill while in an ice duty to pay for 100% of my college. Finished college on active duty at 20 with zero debt. Was commissioned at 21. Bought my first home using my VA loan (zero down, best possible interest rate, no PMI) at 23. First kid at 24. Left the military at 27 and hired into a job earning six figures (all of that military experience), bought my second home with my VA Loan with zero down again. Had another kid at 28. Paid for my masters degree with zero out of pocket (veterans discounts and GI Bill again). Still no debt. Did post grad at Harvard. GI Bill and grants for veterans. Still no debt. Started my PhD. Finish next month. Still no debt. Bought my third home 3 years ago for $1.2 million. VA Loan allowed me to finance for zero down. 💁🏻‍♂️

    Those friends that I know who stayed in from when I joined are E9s to O5s with 24 years of service. They all earn six figures in the military with the O5s hitting around $150k a year. All could retire now at 41 but most will go to 46-47 and get 75% of base for life.

    This is all about choices… The dream is alive and well. However, so are entitlement, poor work ethic, and incorrectly aligned priorities.

  2. ye says:

    and we all know exactly who ran off with all the money

  3. Pura Vida says:

    Surfs up! Start living today