Sustainable tourism and the management of nearshore coastal places: place attachment and disruption to surf-spots
Surfing, a dominant recreational activity in many coastal areas, is a primary driver of local and international tourism. Surf-spots, nearshore oceanic locations where waves break and surfing occurs, are essential community resources. Yet, many surf-spots are at risk of degradation from climate change and other factors. Knowing whether and why surfers consider surf-spots as meaningful places can inform sustainable management of these resources, benefitting the environment and users alike. This study examines place attachment and disruption in relation to surf-spots through an online survey of 1055 surfers in California, where surfing is an important recreational and touristic industry. Our findings suggest that surfers exhibit high fidelity to specific surf-spots and develop deep attachments to those spots, with the strength of the attachment varying depending on the type of surf-spot. Some respondents consider surf-spots to be “part of their family”; few respondents describe no attachments. We conclude that, despite being dynamic oceanic locations, surf-spots are meaningful places for surfers. This importance, combined with the value of surf-spots as resources driving coastal tourism and recreation, warrants systematic consideration of surf-spots as natural resources by managers, and suggests that user–place attachment should be better understood at surf-spots and other tourism sites.
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