The Economic Value of Beaches
FORT MYERS - Beaches are the leading tourist destinations in the United States, according to numerous polls conducted over the years, including polls by USA Today, Washingtonpost.com and TripAdvisor.
The Clean Beaches Council estimates approximately 180 million Americans make 2 billion visits to ocean, gulf and inland beaches each year. This is almost twice as many visits as those made to properties of the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and all state parks and recreation areas combined.
"It's important to note that many visits to state parks and recreation areas were visits to beaches within those parks," says James R. Houston, Ph.D., director of research and development for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "For example, state beaches in California account for only 2.7 percent of California state parks, but add up to 72 percent of park visits."
Some people might be surprised to hear that the 2 billion beach visits also dwarf the 138 million visitors to all theme parks in the U.S. combined, including properties owned by Disney, Six Flags, Universal, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Paramount and more.
Beaches are a large component of America's economy. Overall, U.S. beaches contribute $322 billion to the national economy each year, according to figures from the Clean Beaches Council and the U.S. Department of Labor. In 2007, California beach tourism funneled $73 billion into the national economy, and Florida beach tourism funneled $52 billion into the national economy.
When it comes to taxes and beach tourism, the federal government is the big winner, because most taxes paid by beach tourists flow to Washington. "To illustrate, let's look at a study of tourism done at Huntington Beach, Calif., where the federal government annually receives $135 million in federal revenues, the state receives $25 million in state sales tax revenues, and the local government receives $4.8 million in local revenue sales tax and parking fees," Houston says. "Similarly, the federal government receives $7.2 billion annually just from international tourists. Beach tourism is big business!"
Return to Current Edition