Surf economics: how to keep the crowds down?

The Economist

Spotted on Surf Nation, The Economist has a very interesting article about surfing’s increasing problem with crowds and how access can be ‘rationed’ using a number of classic economic means. In recent years, surfing has suffered from its own version of the ‘tragedy of the commons’. Charging for access in one form or another is the classic economic answer and one (in the form of expensive boat trips to the Maldives) that some surfers are prepared to use. Rationing access in one form or another to waves is another possible answer.

As a bit of a lefty, this bothers me. As a bit of a surfer, it attracts me. The crowds at my local break are partly kept down by its heavy reputation for localism. But, worryingly, it could easily be controlled by a clampdown on unlawful parking. A few years ago, access was almost prevented by coastal defence works but surfers still found a way round it. So controlling access doesn’t work.

The answer that the Economist seems to favour is travelling to far-flung unsurfed spots. Mine is traveling to near-flung spots still (unbelievably) waiting to be discovered by the masses.

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