Regulating "Nirvana": Sustainable surf tourism in a climate of increasing regulation

Jess Ponting, Danny O'Brien*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Indonesia's Mentawai Islands are widely regarded as a surfer's "Nirvana." This paper uses qualitative interviews and participant observation to explore the politics of surf tourism recreational capacity management in the Mentawais, and the wider implications for Mentawaian host communities' involvement in the surf tourism economy. While much of the Mentawaian surf tourism industry was vehemently opposed to a recently introduced capacity management model, the market responded favourably. There appear to be immediate advantages for government and local communities in incentivising low-volume, high-yield land-based surf tourism development, and social carrying capacity measures such as vocational training and cultural interchange emerge as viable adjuncts to purely physical carrying capacity regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-110
Number of pages12
JournalSport Management Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015


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