Blue Flags for 41 SA beaches

2013-10-09 08:58

Ramsgate - South Africa is celebrating its 13th year of successfully running the Blue Flag programme with no less than 41 beaches and five marinas being awarded full status, and 12 beaches holding pilot status.

KZN boasts six beaches, the Eastern Cape eight, the Western Cape 26 and the Northern Cape one.

Although the original focus of the international Blue Flag Programme was on encouraging beaches to comply with water quality standards, it has since expanded to take a holistic view of safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental management issues, with a strong focus on environmental education and biodiversity conservation.

The voluntary eco-label is given to beaches that meet 32 main criteria spanning over four aspects of coastal management: (1) water quality, (2) environmental education and information, (3) environmental management and (4) safety and services, which include excellent life-saving standards, top-rate parking and sparkling ablution facilities.

In addition to beaches, the programme now also provides environmental accreditation to marinas and whale-watching boats. This year - for the first time - Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were included in the International Blue Flag Criteria.

"We have the capability and the means, the welcoming culture, and the varied, textured, beautiful destination that the world's travellers - ever more demanding and discerning - want when they choose a destination. However, in order for South Africa to further optimise its tourism potential, it is critical that we offer both domestic and international visitors clean, safe and well-managed beaches," Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, said at the launch of the new Blue Flag season in Ramsgate on Tuesday.

He added that tourism growth and development, environmental conservation, and social wellbeing can be mutually reinforcing and that the Blue Flag programme, run by the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (WESSA), is an excellent example of this. The programme has played a major role in job creation and improved environmental management.

"Providing world-class beach facilities in a country where beach tourism is an important part of our ‘brand' is a great tool for marketing. And offering international and domestic tourists opportunities to choose destinations which have Blue Flag beaches will certainly help improve South Africa's competitiveness in the global market," he said.

Below is a full list of the beaches that gained Blue Flag status this year.

KZN: 

 

- Hibiscus Coast Municipality 

 

Eastern Cape: 

- Nelson Mandela Metro Municipality 

- Kouga Municipality 

Western Cape: 

- Bitou Municipality 

- Knysna Municipality 

- Eden District Municipality/SANParks 

- Mossel Bay Municipality 

- Hessequa Municipality 

- Overstrand Municipality 

- City of Cape Town Municipality 

- Matzikama Municipality 

Northern Cape 

- Richtersveld Municipality 

 Pilot Blue Flag Sites 

KZN: 

- Hibiscus Coast Municipality 

- Ethekwini Municipality 

Eastern Cape: 

- Ngqushwa Municipality 

Read more on:    adventure  |  good news  |  travel  |  holidays  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle
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