Nationwide Survey Indicates Coastal Recreation Brings Big Business

WOODS HOLE – A new report by social scientists at NOAA Fisheries indicates that ocean and coastal recreation is big business.

The National Ocean Recreation Expenditure Survey conducted across all 50 states in 2012 was completed to estimate the number of people who participate in ocean recreation and the days they participate each year.

The survey results indicated that nearly 49 million adults went to the beach for 1.2 billion days in 2012.

Northeast Fisheries Science Center Economist Scott Steinbeck said beachgoers also spend a lot of money during their trips.

“We estimate that they spent $141 billion in 2012 on all sorts of related items from beach chairs to surfing lessons, fishing charters and hotel rooms,” Steinbeck said.

A model generated from the data shows that the money spent in coastal areas supported more than 3.1 million full and part-time jobs in several industries, including retail, hospitality, manufacturing, finance, transportation and real estate.

“All of these people rely on ocean recreation for their livelihood,” Steinbeck said.

The New England region has only about 7 percent of the nation’s coastline and represented the smallest regional share with 5.6 million visitors who spent 135 million days at the beach. Those visitors spent an estimated $11 billion.

“It contributes quite a bit to New England’s economy,” Steinbeck said.

The pacific region, which accounts for nearly half of the U.S. coastline had the largest number of participants with 14 million visitors spending 382 million days engaged in ocean activity.

Before the first-of-its-kind survey was conducted researchers did not realize how big of economic driver ocean recreation was in the U.S.

“We’re hoping this report will raise the awareness of the economic importance of ocean recreation and maybe get the attention of policymakers to help keep our oceans clean and accessible,” Steinbeck said.

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