The sea is changing. Many coastal communities are moving away from extractive marine practices (like fishing) and are looking for other ways of generating economic income. Surf tourism is one development option for remote coastal communities. However, many national governments and international organizations have a misconception about surfers. Some officials think that surfers are partiers, drug users/addicts and hippies.
Together with partners in the surfing community, a team of researchers from Old Dominion University and the Coral Triangle Conservancy has launched an online survey to gather preferences, habits and motivations of surfers who travel. The survey asks surfer respondents to revisit their past surf trips, their wave preferences and their future plans for surf travel. Collective responses from the survey will be used to communicate the role of surf tourism in development strategy to industry stakeholders, especially those in lesser-developed regions. With this information, these organizations will have a more accurate picture of surfers, which will help them improve their marketing and approach towards surf tourism development.
“Many national governments and international organizations have a misconception about surfers. Some officials think that surfers are partiers, drug users/addicts and hippies”
Surfers worldwide, age 18 and older who travel at least one night away from home to surf, are encouraged to participate by taking the short online survey, available at Surf Travel Survey. “Surfing is an overlooked development strategy for coastal communies in lesser-developed regions. Many governments are familiar mostly with novice surfing activities, similar to those occurring at places like Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia,” said study leader Dr. Brooke Porter, Scientific Advisor at the Coral Triangle Conservancy. “These governments are underestimating the expenditures and value of intermediate and advanced surfers who travel for exclusive surf experiences.”
Porter discovered the misconceptions surrounding surfers who travel while serving as an international expert for the Nature Conservancy Indonesia’s Mapping Ocean Wealth Project in 2015. She found that many government officials were dissuaded by the beach bum or party image of the surf scene common at places like Kuta Beach and that they had overlooked the potential of a well-organized niche surf tourism industry. The purpose of the survey is, not only to understand travel habits and characteristics of surfers, but also, to inform responsible management decisions for coastal areas looking to surf tourism as a development strategy.
The survey is now live and available in English, Spanish and Italian. The team is soliciting responses from surfers throughout the United States and beyond. Findings, which will maintain the anonymity of participants, will be made available in mid 2017. Surfers worldwide, age 18 and older who travel at least one night away from home to surf, are encouraged to participate by taking the short online survey, available at Surf Travel Survey.