FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 12, 2011
Contact: Ken or Kate Gooderham -- (239) 489-2616
Harry Simmons, ASBPA President, (910) 200-7867
What's the economic power of your beach?
Everyone can agree coastlines contribute seriously to local (and larger) economies... but it's often difficult to say how much.
It seems a simple enough question: What's the economic value to your community of having a beach? The answer, alas, is not as easier as it may appear.
There are a number of aspects that go into determining the economic value of a beach to the community it graces, aspects that can be difficult to accurately measure both due to their complexity and their ubiquity. When the impact is everywhere and so intrinsically imbued in the community that separating it out from the non-beach economy is a challenge even for experienced economists, measuring the economic value of a beach takes work.
Nonetheless, when you ponder what a beach means to your community, here are some areas with which to start your studies:
Expenditures, direct and indirect: Often, when you read about the beach economy, you'll see use of the term "multiplier." This is econo-speak for how the money generated by beach-related activities ripples through the local economy, so that $1 spent by a beach visitor ends up generating a multiplier impact of $8 (or $320, to use two common multipliers) in the larger community (and beyond) economy. The use of multipliers is best left to the economists, since they can call on models that accurately simulate economic actions. The rest of us, however, can use their modeled multipliers as a shorthand way of better assessing a beach's boost to the economy...without having to account for every dollar that passes through it.
Jobs: Not just the ones you can directly tie to the beach -- the hotel that wouldn't be there otherwise, say -- you also need to consider the jobs that rely on the people (and money) beaches attract to the community -- and which would go away if the beach ever did.
Taxes, direct and indirect: Tourist taxes are an easy measurement, but assigning how much sales tax is generated by beach-related sales is tougher. Then there's the calculation of how much tax revenue is being protected from loss by a wide sandy beach... or eliminating the need for tax-funded disaster after a storm, say.
Property values: Slap a beach of any kind next to a property, and you can expect its value to double or triple (at least) without blinking an eye. Make that a wide sandy beach -- the kind that's primed for recreation and protection alike -- and you can expect to add millions to your tax base. When you revitalize a beachfront through renourishment or restoration, you typically can expect a revitalization of the community next to it... meaning the millions spent to put sand on the shoreline could generate billions in new property taxes.
The intangibles: Beyond the allure and ambience of beaches, which draws residents, businesses and visitors alike, consider what a beachfront community can mean to a larger governmental entity in terms of net economic benefit. Take the taxes these communities generate (through all the avenues noted above) against the costs they take to maintain, and you'll find many beach towns and neighborhoods end up being donor communities to the larger government entity of which they are a part. It might be that these areas generate far more in tax revenue than they require in expenses, or perhaps their demographics cut across the local tax structure in ways that mean those residents contribute far more than they take back in specific services. Either way, the larger community typically benefits from the wave-driven power of the coastal economy.
The bottom line: There are many ways beaches contribute to the economy -- ways not always easy for us to quantify, but ways that are very valuable to the community and country nonetheless.
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ABOUT ASBPA: Founded in 1926, the ASBPA promotes the integration of science, policies and actions that maintain, protect and enhance the coasts of America. For more information on ASBPA, go to www.asbpa.org, facebook or www.twitter.com/asbpa.