WESTPORT — Tourism and recreation are vital to the social and economic success of coastal communities, but little data exists to demonstrate their economic and spatial impact.
Filling data gap
To fill the data gap, The Surfrider Foundation (surfrider.org), a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches, has partnered with the leader in impact technology solutions for ocean management, Point 97, to document the recreational uses of Washington’s coast, which will help determine the value of coastal and ocean recreation to the state’s economy.
“The surf community is underappreciated in terms of its financial benefit to the coastal community,” said Arnold Schouten, member of the Clallam County Marine Resource Committee and Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Schouten, who has surfed the Olympic Peninsula since the early 1980s, looks forward to the results of the survey to better understand our state’s coastline, how it is used and its financial benefit to local businesses.
Since the online survey was launched on May 21 more than 200 surveys have voluntarily been completed, with nearly that many more partially done. The survey continues through October. A few of the most popular activities reported so far include beach going, sightseeing, photography, surfing, kayaking, and wildlife watching.
More participants needed
Surfrider needs more people to participate. The Foundation encourages anyone who recreates on the Washington coast to take the survey this summer and help provide the most accurate data possible for the state of Washington. go to: http://surfrider.org/washington-survey/ to participate.
The utility of the survey for developing and promoting recreation and tourism opportunities is highly anticipated by many recreation-dependent businesses, including adventure guides, rental shops, and sales shops for kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and camping equipment. Forty-three recreation-dependent businesses in Washington are supporting the survey’s distribution by handing out flyers to their customers and hanging posters in their stores.
“This study will help policy makers better understand, enhance, and protect the coastal recreation activities that are so important to Washington Coast residents and business owners,” said Point 97 Lead Project Manager, Dr. Cheryl Chen. “As demands on coastal areas grow, increasing our understanding of existing uses will lead to smarter management of our coastline.”
Marine spatial planning
The survey is supported by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and is part of a larger planning effort called Marine Spatial Planning. This is a collaborative effort working to inform policy, decision making, and management of our ocean resources. One tangible result of this survey and other similar studies are the data viewer available to the public at msp.wa.gov.
Surfrider and Point 97 have successfully completed similar surveys in Oregon and in the Mid-Atlantic. The results of these surveys are being used to visualize important areas for recreation and tourism as well as document the dollar value of recreation to coastal communities. The survey and more information can be found at: http://surfrider.org/washington-survey/ and an instructional video for the survey can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUBp3MQoAJc