InsightsCategory: BusinessHow much money does surfing contribute to the coastal San Diego economy?
Jorge Bonilla asked 3 months ago

Based on these findings, the hope is that local business will increase their sales by targeting their customers more efficiently, and optimize their supply chain management.

1 Answers
eric Staff answered 3 months ago

Chad Nelson has produced a set of reports about the total economic value of surfing, putting the surplus value per surfer per visit at between $40 to $140.

His dissertation has the most complete information, but it is a lot to read. He also wrote a report for the SurfRider Foundation that estimates the averate economic value of surfing in the US at about $66 per surfer ber visit.

The Surfrider Foundation also has a summary web page that lists the economic value of Trestles as about $10M/year to San Clemente, and about $26M/year in total economic value.

I could not find an estimate of the number of surfers in San Diego, but Nelson’s report on surfer demographics could be useful in making an estimate, including the (unattributed) estimate of 3.3M surfers in the US. If we aribtrarily suppose that San Diego county accounts for 1/15 of those sufers, and use the estimates for expenditure per visit ( $59) and visits per year ( 120 ) we would estimate the economic value of surfing to San Diego Couny at about $16B/year.

That seems far too large. I suspect that the total population of surfers ( 3.3M) includes a lot of very casual survers, while Nelson’s report, which was based on an opt-in internet survey, has the most dedicated surfers. So, the total population of surfers probably does not surf 120 times per year. If we guess that the population averages for expenditures and visits are much lower, say $40 and 60, we’d get an annual economic value of surfing to San Diego County of $5B/year. That’s still large, about 2.5% of the total GDP of the county, but it’s possibly in the ballpark. I’ve seen other estimates of the number of surfers in the US as 1.7M, which would put the SD County value at about $2.7B/year.

If you’d like to research the issue more, a good search term to start with is "surfonomics".