Save The Waves Economic Study: Mundaka

Save The Waves has commissioned an economic study on the value of the surfing wave in Mundaka, Spain, to the local economy, through Oregon State University. It’s a comprehensive, cutting edge research project that will factor in tourism revenue as well as local surf industry/product revenue, including the annual Billabong Pro contest held every October. The results will be used to quantify the economic value of the surfing wave in Mundaka, and help Save The Waves make an economic as well as environmental argument for protecting valuable surf spots and their surrounding environments.

One of Europe’s best breaks, the rivermouth in Mundaka, Spain, suffered huge setbacks after a massive dredging project in 2003 severely compromised the quality of the break. The annual Billabong Pro, which runs each October at this famous locale, was cancelled in 2004, after the sandbar seemed to have practically disappeared. What was once a very shallow sandbar was as much as twelve feet under the Atlantic, and hence the famous lefthander disappeared for nearly three years, much to the dismay of contest organizers, local surfers, and businesspeople in the small coastal town on the Basque coast.

The loss of the wave had devastating effects on the local economy. Many local business owners had no idea how valuable the surf spot was until it was gone. Tourism fell sharply, and businesses that depended on the constant flow of surfers, spectators, and sightseers were the hardest hit. The result was a collective outcry from a large number of people in the town, many of whom have never surfed the wave, or considered how important a world-class wave was to a small economy.

Hopefully this indicates a full recuperation for Europe’s most mourned loss, as well as sends a lesson to the business interests that caused the break to temporarily disappear.

The Save The Waves economic study will utilize local in-person surveying in the town of Mundaka in September and October of 2007, as well as an online survey to collect data. Save The Waves hopes to complete the study and release the findings in the beginning of 2008.

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