2016/2017 Blue Flag season launched

2016-10-13 06:00
PHOTO: Precious Gumede Putting up the Blue Flag and the WESSA flags for Marina Beach are (from left) Derek Hannekom (Minister of Tourism), Sihle Zikalala (KZN MEC of EDTEA), Gareth Tennant (Aquatic Safety superintendent), Cllr Nomusa Mqwebu (Ray Nkonyeni mayor) and Dr Thommie Burger (WESSA CEO).

PHOTO: Precious Gumede Putting up the Blue Flag and the WESSA flags for Marina Beach are (from left) Derek Hannekom (Minister of Tourism), Sihle Zikalala (KZN MEC of EDTEA), Gareth Tennant (Aquatic Safety superintendent), Cllr Nomusa Mqwebu (Ray Nkonyeni mayor) and Dr Thommie Burger (WESSA CEO).

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THE national 2016/2017 Blue Flag season and Tourism Blue Flag project beach launch was held at Marina Beach last Friday.

Dignitaries from WESSA, Tourism, municipality and representatives from qualifying beaches, which spread across 3000kms of the coast line, attended.

Programme director Malcolm Powell said 2016 marks the 16th anniversary of the Blue Flag programme, and 58 blue flags will be flown on beaches along SA’s coastline.

The Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KZN municipalities were awarded Blue Flag status for beaches in their areas.

Ray Nkonyeni Municipality (RNM) got seven for its beaches - Hibberdene, Umzumbe, Southport, Lucien, Ramsgate, Marina and Trafalgar.

RNM Mayor Nomusa Mqwebu said she is honoured to receive these awards and encourages the community to continue working with the municipality to maintain the status of the beaches.

“The Blue Flag programme is a catalyst to improve tourism in the area, therefore to maintain the status of our beaches the municipality has partnered with businesses and the community to manage the cleanliness of our beaches. We are also looking forward to working on the remaining beaches to achieve the requirements of Blue Flag status­,” she said.

The MEC of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala said it pivotal to uphold the Blue Flag status.

“KZN should be creative and come up with other strategies to attract tourists, including maintaining the beaches as it contributes to the economy.

“It’s everybody’s responsibility to promote tourism not only that of the department and agencies. The partnership with WESSA is to sustain the status of our beaches and to keep them environmentally friendly,” said Zikalala.

Tourism Minister Derek Hane-kom handed over awards to the municipalities, also recognising the presence of Miss Tourism Universe SA, Amahle Ngaleka, and thanked her for being at the event.

Hanekom said that taking care of the beaches also includes taking care of marine life, which attracts tourists. He introduced the newly elected beach stewards who will be working along the coast ensuring that each kilometre of the 3 000km coastline is taken care of.

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