Portugal's Ericeira seeing positive impact from being a top surf spot

20 February 2022 Consultancy.eu 2 min. read

Designating Portugal’s world-famous Ericeira surf spot as an official ‘World Surfing Reserve’ has had an overall positive effect on the region. This is according to a study by Murua Consulting, Qantara Sports and GMT Hospitality, commissioned by Ericeira Surf Clube.

The World Surfing Reserve program, initiated by Save the Waves Coalition, aims to proactively identify, designate, and protect the world’s most gnarly surf spots from threats. It recognizes and safeguards iconic surf spots worldwide, fostering a global network of designated surfing reserves.

In Europe, Ericeira is, in fact, the only World Surfing Reserve location. The area is famous for the large variety of surf spots it offers both beginners and experienced surfers across a coastline that stretches 8 kilometers.

Portugal's Ericeira seeing positive impact from being a top surf spot

The study looked back at the development of Ericeira and its impact on the region since its attained its World Surfing Reserve status. “There were some problems associated with the rapid growth, but it seems to us that they have been low in relation to the gains made,” said Juanma Murua, owner of Murua Consulting.

Though the increase in visitors to the famed spot has led to a growing number of surf schools and tourist accommodations, something that has had a positive impact on the local economy, “the tourist pressure has brought environmental problems,” says Murua.

The study recommends fostering sustainability at the Ericeira World Surfing Reserve and other similar locations globally, promoting a comprehensive understanding of surfing's impact beyond economic quantification. A goal of the study is to develop a tool to measure this impact that can be applied to other surfing regions.

Surfing, which relies on the natural environment and tends to attract people that feel a connection to the sea, lends itself well to sustainability. The movement for sustainable surfing is gaining momentum, with initiatives ranging from boards and wetsuits made with nontoxic materials to eco-friendly surf clubs.

The shift towards environmentally conscious surfing aims to reduce the sport’s carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices within the surfing community. That includes having a positive impact on the wider local communities in the areas where surfers flock to catch the world’s best waves.

“Ericeira’s economy has become ‘touristized’ and surfing has been an important lever in this process. From there, it is necessary to decide at what level of dependence on tourism we want to be and what measures to take in order to properly manage this dynamic,” said Murua.

In delivering its report, Murua Consulting worked in tandem with Qantara Sports (a leading sports consultancy in Europe and the Middle East), and GMT Hospitality (a local hospitality specialist based in Ericeira).