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Tourism and Beaches

America’s largest industry is travel and tourism. It accounts for $746 billion of the gross national product, produces $47 billion in tax revenues, employs 14.4 million people, and grows at the rate of 343,000 new jobs annually. Beaches are the leading tourist destination in the U.S. with 85 percent of tourist revenues spent in coastal states. The loss of beaches is perceived by some as an economic threat to tourism, and has lead to federal programs to protect and reclaim beaches at taxpayer expense. At Miami Beach, $6 billion worth of real estate towers over 10 miles of disappearing beach, which has been restored several times, the last effort costing $60 million. Some oppose such activities, claiming that the public’s money shouldn’t be spent to restore beachfront to private property. An average of $30 million is spent a year on beach restoration, or around $1 million a square mile

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