Tim Baker | AN OPEN LETTER TO GOLD COAST MAYOR TOM TATE
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AN OPEN LETTER TO GOLD COAST MAYOR TOM TATE

AN OPEN LETTER TO GOLD COAST MAYOR TOM TATE

Sent this little note along with a copy of Mick Fanning’s book Surf For Your Life to our mayor today:

Dear Mr Mayor,

I have read with interest your recent comments in the media regarding surfing, cruise ship terminals, the Kirra Groyne, and two-time world champion and current world ratings leader Mick Fanning.

I thought I would take the time to write to you and send you a copy of Mick’s book Surf For Your Life, which I co-authored, so you can better appreciate his many achievements, the significant obstacles he has overcome, and the positive attention he draws to the Gold Coast. I have included a copy of his Grommet’s Edition with fewer words and more photos in case you have a younger relative with an interest in surfing who may appreciate it.

The Gold Coast’s world-famous waves are one of its greatest and most valuable natural assets – economically, socially, and recreationally. It takes a rare confluence of conditions to create a great surf spot and the Coast has been abundantly blessed in this regard. The beachbreaks of South Stradbroke Island and the southern Gold Coast pointbreaks are renowned throughout the surfing world. Suggesting surfers can just move along to another stretch of beach if one of these surf breaks is damaged or destroyed by the development of a cruise ship terminal shows a total disregard for the factors that produce a great surf break and the enormous value they have to an area. The economic value of quality surf breaks has been well-established through  credible academic research by people like Dr Neil Lazarow, in his work at Griffith University’s Centre for Coastal Management. His work estimated South Stradbroke Island’s surf generated $20 million of economic activity a year – in the money spent on travel, accommodation, food and equipment by surfers pursuing their surfing there. You can read more here: http://www.valueofwaves.org/uploads/1/1/4/2/11420190/time_2008.pdf

What would you say are the Gold Coast’s most valuable sporting facilities? The football stadiums at Carrara and Robina,used by the Gold Coast Suns and Titans respectively perhaps? Would you consider bulldozing those to build a casino? I would argue that the Gold Coast’s premier surf breaks are no less valuable to the Coast and the wider surfing world. The Australian Sports Commission recently recognised surfing as a high priority sport and increased funding to it because it is seen as a “Sport for life” – that is, surfers continue surfing through most of their adult life and there are significant public health benefits in this. Unlike footballers or some other sports people, surfers don’t tend to give up their chosen sport in later life, and so are healthier, happier and less of a burden on the health care and aged care systems as a result.

I would encourage you to take a broad-minded view of surfing’s value to the Gold Coast and treat your surfing constituents with respect and courtesy. Your own council is engaged in promoting the Gold Coast as one of the world’s great Surf Cities, and is staging the first international Surf Cities conference here in 2013, because of the enormous economic benefits surfing brings to this area. Their stated aim is to have the Gold Coast recognized internationally as the world’s premier Surf City. Your recent comments are not helping their cause or the future prosperity of the Gold Coast.

Regards,

Tim Baker

 

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