Cape Town - The national Blue Flag launch, held at Dolphin Beach in Kouga Municipality, had some exciting news for South Africa’s beaches.
Over the upcoming Blue Flag season for 2017–2018, South Africa will proudly fly 62 Blue Flags across our beautiful beaches, marinas and boats that contribute to sustainable tourism from 1 November 2017.
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Embrace local tourism
Applications for the Blue Flag eco-label were critically reviewed through a multi-stage approval process that involved national and international assessment, by a South African and an international jury panel.
In order to achieve this status, there are four key aspects that must be up to standards including management, water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and services. Effective conservation and environmental education programs must be carried out during the year to retain their status.
Cape Town received the highest number of Blue Flag sites and this comes as no surprise as local and international tourists flock to the pristine beaches and breathtaking sunsets for the summer. 28 Western Cape beaches, 11 boats, and 7 marinas have been awarded Blue Flag status. There has been an increase in Blue Flag boats and marinas compared to last season.
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Durbs is making us proud as it has nine Blue Flag beaches in total and this includes one marina which has been awarded the eco-label. Durban has maintained their eco-label marina since the previous season.
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The Pilot program is aimed at developing three provinces for potential Blue Flag sites. During this development, the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) will work with beach managers and tourism Blue Flag stewards to work towards achieving a long-term goal of full Blue Flag status through data collection involving tourism data, safety and environmental incident as indicated by the Department of Tourism. The beach stewards will also be involved in developing critical environmental education around the beaches.
Across the globe, a total of 4 400 beaches, boats and marinas currently hold Blue Flag status in 46 countries.
The Blue Flag initiative
The Minister of Tourism, Ms. Tokozile Xasa stated, “We are re-awarding Blue Flag status to some of the beaches that lost their blue flag status in the 2016/17 season. I would like to attribute this achievement to the Department’s Blue Flag Beach Steward project which places young people on these beaches to maintain their Blue Flag standards.”
The Blue Flag initiative is aimed at creating opportunities in tourism for the low-income youth members by providing them with a certificate in Environmental Education Training and Development practices that specialize in national tourism. The program has been launched by the Department of Tourism and WESSA and aims to achieve educating 200 members of the youth over 28 months.
The department is utilising the Expanded Public Works Programme to ensure that jobs are created for young people in the tourism industry. It was also indicated that the initiative hopes to bring more tourists to South African shores.
The WESSA Ecotourism Manager, Vincent Shacks emphasised the strength in tourism programs.
“Blue Flag is an excellent example of what is achievable when government, both local and national, partner with civil society. Not only does the programme encourage adherence to very high, international standards for beaches, boats and marinas 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 at our beaches as well as conducting valuable environmental education activities and campaigns all along our beautiful coastline.”
During the upcoming December holiday season, we recommend you explore the local gems of South Africa and head to the beach with the family.
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