Three Port Elizabeth beaches have been awarded a prestigious global accolade after retaining the right to wave the Blue Flag.
The announcement of full Blue Flag status for the Kings, Humewood and Hobie beaches was made at Marina Beach in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday.
Blue Flag status – the celebrated award for beaches that meet strict environmental, water quality and security criteria – is regarded as a tourist draw-card and a feather in the cap for the metro.
The municipality said it was looking at adding more beaches to the programme, particularly Wells Estate.
“Participation in the Blue Flag is the recognition of the excellent work the municipality is doing in maintaining clean, safe and world-class beaches,” sports, recreation, arts and culture portfolio chairwoman Siyasanga Sijadu said.
“The municipality prides itself on participating in this programme and is looking at adding more beaches to become part of the programme. Wells Estate is an area of focus.”
She collected the Blue Flag certificates at the event, hosted by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa), yesterday.
Wessa also launched a new coastal tourism project yesterday – the Tourism Blue Flag Project – to help improve tourism facilities and services at Blue Flag beaches across the country.
The project will see 200 people employed as beach stewards at Blue Flag sites. Wessa said the stewards would receive accredited training in environmental education and practical work experience.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom spoke about the diversity of marine life along South Africa’s coastline.
“We need to double our Blue Flag coverage to protect our natural heritage as this creates tourism and tourism creates jobs,” Hanekom said.