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Many of Australia’s iconic sandy beaches are already under pressure due to coastal development and the impacts of severe storm or flood events. These impacts are likely to be exacerbated by projected climate changes such as elevated water levels and potentially increased storm intensity. Beaches provide important recreation services for both residents and tourists but few studies in Australia have attempted to place economic values on this service. Thus, coastal authorities that are forced to make investment decisions relating to beach protection and restoration have insufficient data to conduct cost-benefit evaluations of projects where recreation values are significant.
This paper reports on a series of beach recreation surveys that were conducted as part of the national Beach and Surf Tourism and Recreation in Australia: Vulnerability and Adaptation project. Residents and tourists were surveyed in four case study locations, Sunshine Coast (Qld), Clarence Valley (NSW), Augusta-Margaret River (WA) and Surf Coast (Vic) chosen to represent different levels of development, geomorphology and vulnerability. The data was analysed using both the travel cost method and expenditure analysis to estimate recreation and tourism values respectively.