COASTAL municipalities from around South Africa will gather in Jeffreys Bay next month for the national launch of the Blue Flag programme for the 2017/2018 season.Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said about 200 guests, including Deputy Tourism Minister Elizabeth Thabethe, were expected to attend the launch.“It is a great honour for Kouga to have been chosen to host the event. Our seaside towns are among the most popular holiday destinations in South Africa and we are proud to be associated with a programme that promotes excellence in the management of marine and coastal habitats,” she said.The launch will take place at Dolphin Beach, Jeffreys Bay, on October 4. According to the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa), who is the national implementing partner of the programme, a total of 58 Blue Flags were awarded last year, including, 45 beaches, five marinas and eight sustainable tourism boats. Dolphin Beach at Jeffreys Bay was among the recipients.Launched in 1987, the Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label that focuses on the conservation of marine and coastal habitats. It is designed to provide environmental education, raise awareness and promote sound environmental practices among tourists, local populations and beach managers.Applications are put through a rigorous multi-stage approval process involving both national and international assessments.