Blue Flag South Africa is proud to have launched its 12th season of running this successful beach certification programme at an official event held at Grotto Beach in Hermanus, Western Cape, on 11 October 2012.
The event was hosted by the Overstrand Municipality and included addresses by Blue Flag Programme Director Malcolm Powell, acting Mayor of the Overstrand Municipality Alderman Pieter Sholtz and Minister of Tourism Martinus van Schalkwyk, as well as the awarding of Blue Flags and a flag-raising ceremony. Grotto beach provided a fitting venue for the event as the beach celebrates its 10th year anniversary of maintaining and sustaining its Blue Flag Status this year.
Blue Flag is an international annual award given to beaches that meet a standard of excellence in the areas of safety, amenities, cleanliness, environmental information and environmental management. In South Africa, the Blue Flag programme is managed by WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) and participating local authorities under the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Coastcare initiative. The strict criteria of the programme are set by the international coordinators of the Blue Flag campaign in Europe, the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education). South Africa was the first country outside Europe to be granted Blue Flag accreditation for its beaches.
According to the World Tourism Organization, the international Blue Flag, which is now in its 25th year of operation, is the most well-known and oldest eco-label of its kind. Currently, more than 40 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean are participating in the programme and interest in the programme continues to grow with almost 4,000 Blue Flag beaches and marinas around the world.
There are currently 36 world-class Blue Flag status beaches in South Africa, with 17 beaches holding pilot status. This year full Blue Flag status was awarded for the first time to four marinas: the Yachtport in Saldanha; Granger Bay Water Club and False Bay Yacht Club in the City of Cape Town; and the Royal Alfred Marina in the Ndlambe Municipality in the Eastern Cape.
The success of the Blue Flag programme in South Africa over the past 12 years can be attributed to the commitment of participating municipalities to provide beach-goers and holiday-makers with world class beaches offering safe, clean and well-managed facilities.
Apart from Blue Flag playing a strong role in promoting environmental education, the programme is also of national significance to tourism in South Africa as the Blue Flag has become a symbol of quality recognised by tourists and tour operators around the world. According to Minister van Schalkwyk’s address at the launch event, the tourism sector is following a very positive trend with regard to international tourist arrivals and domestic tourism, and South Africa is now firmly established as a premier global leisure destination. Providing world-class beach facilities in a country where beach tourism is an important part of our brand is a great tool for marketing and offering international and domestic tourists the opportunity to choose destinations which have Blue Flag beaches will certainly help improve South Africa’s competitiveness in the global market.
The Minister also highlighted the critical importance of all role-players in the industry continuing to contribute towards the growth and development of the tourism sector as the third-largest industry of job creation in our country, and acknowledged the work done by WESSA with the Blue Flag programme which has impacted positively on economic benefits, job creation and improved environmental management.
WESSA has achieved numerous successes through the Blue Flag programme over the past year:
The organisation has partnered with Plastics SA and Dyer Island Conservation Trust on the Fishing Line Bin Project to reduce marine animal mortality caused by discarded fishing lines.
After various discussions and meetings with IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature of which WESSA is a founder member, Marine Protected Areas have been brought into the criteria and Wilderness Beach is Blue Flag programme’s first beach located in a South African National Park.
Using the Blue Flag water quality standards for E. coli and faecal strep levels, the Department of Environmental Affairs has introduced the South African Water Quality Guidelines for Coastal Marine Waters.
Whale-watching boats have been introduced into the programme and they may be awarded Blue Flag status by complying with the Blue Flag for Whale-watching Boat’s Environmental Code of Conduct.
The full list of 2012 Blue Flag status marinas, whale-watching boats and beaches in South Africa is as follows:
PROVINCE MUNICIPALITY NAME
MARINAS Western Cape Saldanha 1. Yachtport Marina
City of Cape Town 2. The Water Club, Granger Bay
3. False Bay Yacht Club
Eastern Cape Ndlambe 4. Royal Alfred Marina
WHALE-WATCHING BOATS Western Cape Overstrand 5. Miroshka, Southern Right Charters
6. Whale Whisperer, Dyer Island Conservation Trust
Eden District 7. Damara, Ocean Blue Adventures
BEACHES Northern Cape Richtersveld 8. MacDougall’s Bay
Western Cape Matzikama 9. Strandfontein
City of Cape Town 10. Silverstroomstrand
11. Clifton IV
12. Camp’s Bay
Overstrand 18. Kleinmond
Hessequa 21. Lappiesbaai
24. De Bakke
Eden District 26. Wilderness
Knysna 27. Buffalo Bay
Bitou 29. Robberg V
31. Nature’s Valley
Eastern Cape Kouga 32. Dolphin Beach
Nelson Mandela Metro 33. Humewood
Ndlambe 34. Kariega
KZN Hibiscus Coast 36. Trafalgar
Umhlatuze 43. Alkanstrand
Province Or State