A 16-kilometre stretch of the Gold Coast has officially been declared the eighth World Surfing Reserve.
The south-east Queensland tourist city beat out Noosa on the Sunshine Coast and Brazil’s Guarda do Embao beach.
The Gold Coast joins Sydney’s Manly Beach, Malibu and Santa Cruz in California, Bahio Todos Santos in Mexico, Punta de Lobo in Chile, Huanchaco in Peru and Ericeira in Portugal as reserve sites.
Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve chair Andrew McKinnon said the process took two years and required commitments from local and state governments.
“In the end it was undeniable,” he said.
“Why not have a Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve that protects beach, and amenity, from Burleigh Heads through to Snapper Rocks.”
Save the Waves Coalition executive director Nik Strong-Cvetich said the Gold Coast measured up to all of the judging criteria.
“It’s really based on four criteria,” he said.
“The quality and consistency of the waves, environmental characteristics, the local history and culture and the local support and capacity.”
The reserve provides management and protection for beaches and breaks between Snapper Rocks on the southern Gold Coast and north to Burleigh Heads.
More breaks to reduce overcrowding
The Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he has not ruled out building more breaks within the reserve to reduce overcrowding.
“It makes sure that we look at potential artificial reefs to create other additional waves,” he said.
It is estimated the Gold Coast surfing industry generates $1.4 billion each year and employs 20,000.
Surfing Australia chief executive Andrew Stark said it was a business worth protecting.
“It really makes the Government realise, and understand, how important surfing is to the Gold Coast,” he said.
“These surf breaks bring a lot of tourism to this area, and a lot of people move here just to live on the Gold Coast to surf these waves.”
They include the world’s best surfers, who will compete at the opening Men’s and Women’s World Surf League events scheduled to begin at Snapper Rocks on Thursday.