Eight Cape Town beaches and two of its marinas have been awarded Blue Flag status, putting the Mother City in the lead when it comes to number of Blue Flag beaches in the country. The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded annually to over 3 650 beaches and marinas in 44 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean. The City of Cape Town has successfully participated in the Blue Flag Beach programme since its inception in South Africa in 2001. “Having Blue Flag beaches and marinas is a significant tourism draw-card because international visitors know what to expect when visiting a Blue Flag beach or marina. The programme challenges local authorities, beach operators and yacht and marina management to achieve high standards in environmental management, environmental education, safety and security and water quality,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Special Projects, Alderman Belinda Walker.This year the City applied for Blue Flag status for eight of its beaches across the metropole – all of which have been granted this coveted status. The beaches are as follows: The following beaches have been awarded Blue Flag status for this season, which runs from 1 December 2013 to 31 March 2014: • Bikini • Mnandi • Strandfontein • Muizenberg • Llandudno • Camps Bay • Clifton 4th • Silwerstroomstrand Two of the City of Cape Town’s marinas, Granger Bay Water Club and the False Bay Marina, received full Blue Flag status.Blue Flag beaches are required to meet 32 criteria spanning four aspects of coastal management: water quality; environmental education and information; environmental management; and safety and services. The status indicates that the beaches are clean, have adequate ablution facilities and parking, are environmentally sound, are safe and secure to visit, and adhere to international safety and tourism standards. The accreditation is awarded for one season at a time, and if conditions deteriorate at the beach, it can be withdrawn. Not all beaches in Cape Town have Blue Flag status – but this is not a negative reflection on the beach. The Blue Flag serves merely as a yardstick to assist the City in improving and enhancing services and facilities on all public beaches. “The City is very pleased at this acknowledgement of our commitment to maintaining world-class beaches. The beaches that have attained Blue Flag status are important to residents and tourists alike and this status is especially encouraging going into the Festive Season. Cape Town is ready to welcome local and international tourist to our beaches,” said Alderman Walker.