Say goodbye to the days of tire tread soled "go-aheads", VW vans, and surfviving for the next swell and the solitude of an uncrowded secret spot.
Surfing is an industry and one of many the professional marine safety operation should be pointing to when discussing the relevancy and importance of our aquatic safety programs.
“Surfonomics” is an offshoot of natural resource economics and seeks to quantify the worth of waves, both in terms of value to the user and to the businesses which serve them, as well as, what cost is the public willing to pay to not lose the resource.
So often the Lifeguard profession focuses on statistics related to how the operation is performing, or the superficial numbers of what we do in the realm of public safety every day. And while the number of preventative contacts, first aids, and lost children found are important, we cannot lose sight of the importance of our role in driving a healthy coastal economy.
The economic benefit of surfing has been widely studied over the past decade and the numbers are important in telling a story. For instance, more than 3.3 million people surf annually and expend approximately $3.1 million each year just to make it to their favorite local breaks. One study suggests the City of San Clemente reaps more than $13 million in revenues from people just wanting to experience one little surf break, of many within the city limits, known as “Trestles”.
A 2017 study suggests the activity of surfing generates more than $50 billion for the global economy.
And on every beach sits not only surfers, but body boarders, kayakers, paddlers, swimmers, fishermen, walkers, joggers, and tourists all under the watchful eye of a professional lifeguard belonging to a marine safety operation which employs too few permanent positions and a dwindling candidate pool of seasonal staff all typically with salaries and hourly pay rates far below those of other uniformed public safety professionals.
Today’s Marine Safety leader must to not only understand and analyze the safety tallies of each tower and to use those findings to manage our operations, but he or she must realize the importance of collecting and analyzing statistics related to surfonomics and all coastal economic factors to argue for the equipment needs and budgets to maintain healthy, clean, and well protected beaches and those which utilize them.