The Economics of Rock Climbing – What are we worth?

The economic value of rock climbing is increasingly recognised internationally. This tourism not only provides income and employment but also draws experienced and skilled individuals to regional areas. Labour attraction and retention are critical issues for regional areas in Victoria.

A paper has been produced on behalf of the Victorian Climbing Club to estimate the economic value of climbing to the western region of Victoria. The paper is based on existing climbing data and a recent climbers survey. Prior to the development of this paper only anecdotal evidence existed in terms of the economic benefits of climbing in Victoria.

The estimated direct and indirect rock climbing tourism benefits to regional communities in 2018 are $12.3 million for Mount Arapiles (Dyurrite) and $11.9 million for the Grampians (Gariwerd). In the Grampians that’s almost double what the Grampians Peaks Trail is estimated to generate by 2025 ($6.39), the trail itself costing the taxpayer 26 million and clearing 14.4 hectares of native vegetation.

It is estimated that in 2018 there were 51,452 and 49,145 climbing person days at Mount Arapiles (Dyurrite) and the Grampians (Gariwerd) respectively. Whilst it is still too early to fully understand the implications of the climbing closures, there has been an estimated 36% decline in climbing person days in the Grampians in 2019 whilst Mount Arapiles in the short term is attracting a climbing increase.

Climbing access changes may also impact the Victorian employment sector. Based on questionnaire surveys it is estimated that there are 290 individuals seriously considering a move, moving, or have moved. The IT and professional sectors may be impacted the most across Victoria, however changes may be more greatly felt in regional areas in the health, business and education sectors.

Mental health has a substantial impact at the personal, social and economic levels which are not estimated in this paper but are a cause for concern. 43% of respondents indicating that they or someone they knew had been affected by mental health issues relating to the climbing prohibitions.

For more detailed information please see the attached paper.