PORT Elizabeth can be justifiably proud that three of its beaches have been awarded full Blue Flag status – international recognition which should not for one moment be underestimated for its powerful tourism marketing value.
It is a credit to the NMM Municipality to have achieved this, given budget constraints, and the many other pressing maintenance and infrastructure issues and obstacles the city faces in so many areas.
But it must be remembered that tourism pull is a critical factor for replenishing the local economy while supporting thousands of jobs, and the Blue Flag label serves to underscore the crucial need to expand and build on the undisputed existing tourism potential of the city which – in some respects – has barely been touched on.
This is why such urgent attention needs to be given to other major but marginalised beaches likes Wells Estate, which has been bedeviled by security issues for years. Although facilities and infrastructure at Wells have been markedly improved, the assurance by sport, recreation, arts and culture portfolio chairman Andiswa Mama that efforts are under way to see this beach achieve the same prestigious status must not fizzle out into an idle promise.
So, too, must the same urgency be applied to features like Bayworld, which is crumbling and languishing while delay after delay in signing over responsibility from province to the municipality has seen plans for outside investment and all-new upgrades grind to a halt.
It is pointless having some of the best beaches in the world if the city cannot offer its visitors added family attractions which will reinforce its image as the ideal holiday destination.
Having met this high benchmark for safety, environmental management, amenities and cleanliness at Hobie, Humewood and Kings beaches means the city can achieve world class levels. It should be a reminder to all residents of what a stunning asset they are – and encourage city administrators to pursue further excellence.