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.”
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.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Professional Surfers: Top 5 Wave Riders, According To Experts
- Rainy days really are bad for the economy
- Being in nature 20 hours a week could significantly boost productivity
South West News Service writer Isobel Williams contributed to this report.