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.

- Umhlatuze Municipality
1. Alkantstrand Beach 
- Hibiscus Coast Municipality 
2. Umzumbe Beach 
3. Southport Beach 
4. Lucien Beach 
5. Trafalgar Beach 
6. Marina Beach 
Eastern Cape: 
- Ndlambe Municipality 

7. Kleinemond Beach (provisional) 
8. Kelly's Beach 
9. Kariega Beach 
10. Kenton-on-Sea Middle Beach (provisional) 
11. Boknes Beach (provisional) 
- Nelson Mandela Metro Municipality 
12. King's Beach 
13. Humewood Beach 
- Kouga Municipality 
14. Dolphin Beach 
Western Cape: 
- Bitou Municipality 
15. Nature's Valley Beach 
16. Keurbooms Beach 
17. Robberg V Beach 
- Knysna Municipality 
18. Brenton Beach 
19. Buffalo Bay Beach 
- Eden District Municipality/SANParks 
20. Wilderness Beach 
- Mossel Bay Municipality 
21. Klein Brak Beach 
22. Hartenbos Beach 
23. De Bakke Beach 
24. Santos Beach 
- Hessequa Municipality 
25. Gouritsmond Beach (provisional) 
26. Lappiesbaai Beach 
27. Preekstoel Beach (provisional) 
28. Witsand Beach 
- Overstrand Municipality 
29. Grotto Beach 
30. Hawston Beach 
31. Kleinmond Beach 
- City of Cape Town Municipality 
32. Bikini Beach 
33. Mnandi Beach 
34. Strandfontein Beach 
35. Muizenberg Beach 
36. Llandudno Beach 
37. Camp's Bay Beach 
38. Clifton IV Beach 
39. Silverstroom Beach 

- Matzikama Municipality 
40. Strandfontein Beach 
Northern Cape 
- Richtersveld Municipality 
41. Mac Dougall's Bay Beach 
 Pilot Blue Flag Sites 
- Hibiscus Coast Municipality 
Ramsgate Beach 

- Ethekwini Municipality 
Umdhloti Main Beach 
Umdhloti Tidal Pool Beach 
Eastern Cape: 
- Ngqushwa Municipality 
Hamburg Beach 

- Nelson Mandela Metro Municipality 
Hobie Beach 
Blue Flag Marinas 
Eastern Cape: 
- Ndlambe Municipality  
Royal Alfred Marina, Port Alfred 
Western Cape: 
- Knysna Municipality 
Thesen Islands 
- City of Cape Town Municipality 
False Bay Yacht Club 
Granger Bay Water Club 
- Saldanha Municipality 
Blue Flag Whale-watching Boats 
- Whale Whisperer - Gansbaai (Marine Dynamics) 
- Damara, Gaia - Plettenberg Bay (Ocean Blue Adventures) 
Blue Flag Commercial Boats 
- Robberg Express - Plettenberg Bay (Offshore Adventures) 
Blue Flag Private Boats 
- Yacht Fling - Port Elizabeth

Blue Flag originated in Europe in 1987 with the sole purpose of encouraging beaches to comply with the European Union's Bathing Water Directive. From that starting point, the programme has grown and developed significantly. Internationally, this year sees the programme running successfully for 27 years. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the international Blue Flag is the most well-known and oldest thriving eco-label of its kind. Currently, more than 40 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean are participating in the programme. In 2013, internationally, 3 849 beaches and marinas were awarded Blue Flag status.
Read more on:    adventure  |  good news  |  travel  |  holidays  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle

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