New Blue Flag policy to restore KZN’s beaches

2010-04-14 00:00

IN A bid to ensure that KwaZulu-Natal’s beaches meet international standards and are accredited as such, the province’s Economic Development and Tourism Department announced yesterday that a policy of conformity is under way.

The announcement effectively forces the eThekwini Metro Municipality to comply with Blue Flag standards across its Addington, Bay of Plenty, and north and south beaches, which failed water quality tests in 2008, resulting in the loss of Blue Flag status.

The policy seeks to ensure that the beaches are clear of litter and all facilities are kept clean so as to meet with international standards.

Following the withdrawal of the Blue Flag status, eThekwini city manager Mike Sutcliffe disparaged the Blue Flag Organisation, saying that the city will implement its own set of standards.

Speaking during his department’s budget speech in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature yesterday, MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu said the Blue Flag policy will be completed before the end of the year. This means that the province has missed the boat for the upcoming World Cup.

“The Blue Flag accreditation system is one such system that has, over the years, contri­buted to the province being the leading destination for both domestic and international tourists. In view of this, the department is presently developing a provincial policy on the Blue Flag programme.

“This policy will be thoroughly consulted on with various stakeholders before it is submitted to the provincial cabinet for approval,” said Mabuyakhulu.

“Tourists today are more quality conscious and seek reassurance through recognised accreditation systems, as well as various forms of physical evidence, prior to making decisions to visit destinations,” he said.

He said that the critical importance of beach tourism cannot be under-valued and that is why all the province’s municipalities that have beaches should adhere to an international benchmark.

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