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Chris Hines MBE represented the Blue Gym in March at a Global Surf Cities Conference on the Gold Coast in Australia.

The aim of the was to establish a platform for networking among surf cities, to develop globally sustainable surf industries and to develop frameworks for international collaboration in surf industry education, employment and global career mobility.

The conference took place just before the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Surf competition, with top surfers showing their faces throughout the week. Presenters came from all over the world, including South Africa, Portugal, Spain, New Zealand, USA, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and the UK.

Topics under discussion included innovation in the surf business (such as the rise of the stand-up paddling market), surf tourism, coastal management and surf city governance.
The three day conference sparked some lively debate on the value of surfing, including how surf tourism can be a positive force for economic growth, environmental conservation and positive social change. Delegates also considered the tensions these factors can bring to communities, including potential overcrowding and the management of beaches.
High on the agenda were the economic and social benefits of the natural environment, how these can be measured, reported and crucially, protected. This links to work by Dr Tim Taylor at the European Centre, who is investigating the valuation of ecosystem services.

Following this event, a network is now being built by the World Surf City Network to allow the global exchange of skills and knowledge. This also brings the potential for academics and researchers to link around the world to share mutually beneficial knowledge and information. Follow their progress here.