Save The Waves Releases “Surfonomics” Study on Mavericks

Multi-million-dollar Mavs, looking every bit as valuable as the STW study estimates. Photo: Save The Waves

October 29, 2009, Half Moon Bay, CA – Save The Waves Coalition announced the preliminary results from its second “Surfonomics” study, a measure of the economic value of the world-famous big-wave break at Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, California. The study found that the surfing site and area has an estimated economic value to visitors of nearly $24 million per year, based on approximately 420,000 annual visitors.

“Mavericks is an iconic, world-renowned surf break that’s truly unique,” said Save The Waves executive director Dean LaTourrette. “This study provides evidence of not just its environmental value, but of its economic value as well. This further reinforces the notion that it and other special coastal areas around the world need and deserve to be protected.”

The study combined the economic value visitors place on the wave with intrinsic or cultural values of a coastal location with a world-class wave such as Mavericks. An important goal of the project was to build a model that can inform decision makers in coastal communities with important waves around the world. While prior studies of the value of waves have focused on the economic impacts of a contest or industry to local economies, this study looked at the benefits that surfing provides to surfers and observers by focusing on the value they place on the Mavericks wave through what they give up to experience it, as well as their qualitative comments.

The study, entitled “The Value of a Wave: An Analysis of the Mavericks Region,” was conducted by University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, in partnership with the Center for Responsible Travel at Stanford University, under the guidance of Save The Waves Coalition. The study was made possible by a grant from the Morgan Family Foundation, and Mavericks Surf Ventures as well as contest sponsor Jim Beam helped promote and support the study.

The results come just in time for the 2009/2010 Mavericks Surf ContestÒ opening ceremonies, which will take place at 2:30pm on Friday, October 30, 2009 at Mavericks Beach followed by a reception at 4:30pm at nearby Oceano Hotel & Spa. Save The Waves will be on hand at the event with more detail about the study.

Summary of Key Findings:

1) The wave at Mavericks has an estimated minimum economic value to visitors of $23.9 million per year.*

2) The average visitor is willing to pay a minimum of $56.70 per trip to the Mavericks surf area.

3) Surfers visit the area nearly five times more often than non-surfers and thus accrue more value from the area.

4) The study did not include the Mavericks Surf Contest, which has drawn anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 people to the area on contest day, and thus results in additional economic value to visitors each year.

5) Almost 90% of the respondents labeled surfing an ecotourism activity, and thus important to the cultural and environmental health of the community. Respondents believed that Mavericks helped to positively define the Half Moon Bay area.

* Based on estimated visitation levels of 421,431 per year

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