Humewood, Hobie, Kings among seven in East Cape
More than 50 beaches and marinas along the country’s coastline will be hoisting Blue Flags this summer season, with three beaches in Nelson Mandela Bay boasting this achievement.
Hobie, Humewood and Kings beaches are among the seven in the Eastern Cape that received their 2017-18 Blue Flag status from the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (Wessa) and Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa yesterday.
Only Humewood Beach and Grotto Beach in Hermanus have been on the list for all 17 years that the Blue Flag programme has been run by Wessa.
Blue Flag season begins on November 1.
The Western Cape is the top province‚ with 28 beaches, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with nine and the Eastern Cape third.
A further 22 beaches in the three provinces are listed as Blue Flag pilot sites‚ working towards full accreditation in future.
The beaches’ status was announced yesterday at Dolphin Beach in Jeffreys Bay‚ which has flown a Blue Flag for 16 years.
The other three Blue Flag beaches in the Eastern Cape are Hamburg, the quiet village between East London and Port Alfred, Kariega in Kenton-on-Sea and Port Alfred’s Kelly’s Beach.
“Blue Flag status is a recognition of excellence,” Xasa said.
“It is a trusted symbol of quality and the beaches receiving this status this year will be representing South Africa on an international level.” This year marks the 30th anniversary of the International Blue Flag Campaign.
Representatives from municipalities stretching from Cape Town, along the Southern Cape and Garden Route, and up the east coast into KwaZulu-Natal received their certificates and flags that symbolise their beaches’ exceptional water quality, cleanliness and safety, among other criteria crucial for the award.
Xasa said Blue Flag status would help to attract five million tourists to South Africa over the next five years.
A number of Blue Flag beach stewards – youth ambassadors for the campaign posted at all Blue Flag beaches – were also introduced and Xasa said they had a big role to play in the development of coastal tourism.
“My department is engaging with Wessa to try to identify opportunities where these young people can be developed into more important roles in the tourism sector,” Xasa said.
“We want their minds, their innovations and their creativity to help improve the sector.”
Kouga mayor Elza van Lingen said this award signified a great deal for the winning municipalities.
“Some people may think Blue Flag status is nothing important, but I can assure you it means a whole lot to the places that are awarded this status.
“This title signifies our competitiveness with beaches across the world, and it puts tourists at ease when they know they are visiting a beach that is of an international standard,” she said.
Wessa ecotourism manager Vincent Shacks said: “Blue Flag is an excellent example of what is achievable when government‚ both local and national‚ partners with civil society.
“Not only does the programme encourage adherence to very high international standards, but it has also created an excellent platform from which to develop young and enthusiastic sustainable tourism ambassadors.
“Over the past year, these Blue Flag beach stewards have played a critical role in the maintenance of the Blue Flag standards as well as conducting valuable environmental education activities and campaigns all along our beautiful coastline.”