FRDC-DCCEE: beach and surf tourism and recreation in Australia: vulnerability and adaptation

Project Number:



Bond University

Principal Investigator:

Mike Raybould

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:





One of the most likely and immediate projected climate change impacts is an increase in sea levels, which has the potential to critically impact the state and function of coastal systems (CSIRO 2009; DCC 2009, 2010). While there are current investigations and reports on a number of aspects of marine tourism (e.g. diving, fishing and whale watching), there is no national study on the tourism value of beaches, arguably the most valuable and threatened coastal tourism asset. Work by the applicants has highlighted the social and economic importance of beaches for tourism and recreation in Australian coastal cities (Raybould and Lazarow 2009; Lazarow et al. 2008; Lazarow 2009), which is in turn reliant upon the character and natural state of assets. This project will provide a national classification of beach and surf assets in key 'seachange' locations chosen for their vulnerability to projected climate changes, also estimating the existing economic importance of critically vulnerable assets. Understanding the economic streams emanating from tourism and recreation linked to these assets, and how changes in resource quality and accessibility will impact on these streams at various time horizons and under different climate change projections will allow communities, industry and decision-makers to make better-informed decisions. It will also identify key social trigger points which determine; tourism and recreation behaviour, particularly selection of destinations; the economic consequences which flow from changes in behaviour; and the manner in which key stakeholder and user groups will respond to projected climate change scenarios.


1. LGA/site scale identification and assessment of the vulnerability to climate change of assets that are key drivers of marine and coastal tourism and recreation.

2. Valuation of existing income streams due to beach-related tourism and recreation in case study locations

3. Application of valuation tool (developed in previous stage) in identified seachange localities to test transferability of results

4. Identify social and behavioural responses to climate change impacts on vulnerable tourism and recreation assets.

5. Report on the net vulnerability of regional locations to climate change

Final report - 2010-536-DLD - FRDC-DCCEE: beach and surf tourism and recreation in Australia: vulnerability and adaptation

Final Report
Author(s):Mike Raybould
Date Published:June 2013
Authors: M. Raybould, D. Anning, D. Ware, N.Lazarow

Keywords: economics, beaches, climate adaption, recreation, tourism.

The project outputs have contributed to or will lead to the following outcomes:
1. Case studies of beach and surf-related recreation and tourism activities and values in four coastal locations chosen to represent different levels of development, reliance on tourism revenues, vulnerability to climate change and adaptive capacity. 
2. Estimates of the economic values associated with beach and surf recreation and tourism in each of the four case-study coastal locations and the potential losses under climate change scenarios.
3. The project expanded the availability and temporal relevance of estimates of the economic value of beach and coastal assets in Australia, roughly doubling the number of available estimates for use in desktop assessments. The case-study sites were chosen to improve the geographic scope of available estimates and to explore the regional influence of these value estimates.
4. Development of a classification framework to provide an enhanced means of transferring these values to other policy sites, where empirical estimates are not possible due to resource constraints.
5. The economic value estimates and qualitative information regarding the importance of natural and built attributes are currently being used by local government partners in the case-study locations to provide better data for decisions relating to the management of key coastal assets and features in their respective regions. This will ensure that recreation and tourism values are recognised and given appropriate weighting in management decisions.