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Blue Flag flies on SA beaches

by BuaNews Online
on 08 Dec 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

South African beaches have been awarded international Blue Flag status for 2008-09 for excelling in safety, cleanliness, provision of amenities and maintenance of environmental standards.

Blue Flag gives local and foreign visitors the knowledge that their beaches are clean, environmentally sound and adhere to international safety and other tourist standards, reports Southafrica.info.

When South Africa joined the campaign in 2001 as the first country outside Europe to participate, Blue Flag began to grow into a truly international campaign.

The voluntary eco-label is given to beaches that meet 14 criteria spanning three aspects of coastal management: water quality, environmental education and information, and safety and services, which include excellent life-saving standards, top-rate parking and sparkling ablution facilities.

Local authorities report a number of spin-offs from being awarded Blue Flag status, including an increase in visitors, improved behaviour on the part of beach-goers, property prices rising for homes near Blue Flag beaches - and visitors enjoying a well cared-for and managed beach.

South Africa's Blue Flag beaches for 2008/09 are:

In the Eastern Cape:
* Dolphin Beach, Jeffrey's Bay
* Hobie Beach, Port Elizabeth
* Humewood Beach, Port Elizabeth
* Kelly's Beach, Port Alfred
* Kings Beach, Port Elizabeth
* Wells Estate, north of Port Elizabeth

In Kwazulu-Natal:
* Hibberdene Beach, south coast
* Margate Beach, south coast
* Marina/San Lameer Beach, south coast
* Ramsgate Beach, south coast

In the Western Cape:
* Bikini Beach, Gordon's Bay
* Camps Bay Beach, Cape Town
* Clifton 4th Beach, Cape Town
* Grotto Beach, Hermanus
* Hawston Beach, near Hermanus
* Lappiesbaai Beach, Stilbaai
* Mnandi Beach, Cape Town
* Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town
* Strandfontein Beach, Cape Town

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, a further 16 South African beaches are piloting the Blue Flag programme with the aim of achieving full accreditation in 2009 or 2010.

The Blue Flag is awarded for one year only. Eighteen South African beaches were awarded Blue Flag status in 2007, 20 in 2006, 20 in 2005, 14 in 2004, eight in 2003, eight in 2002, and four in 2001.

The Blue Flag initiative was born in France in 1985, with the first coastal municipalities awarded the Blue Flag on the basis of sewage treatment and bathing water quality.

The concept has since grown to include other criteria, and there are now over 3 200 Blue Flag beaches and marinas around the world.

Blue Flag is managed in South Africa by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and participating coastal authorities under the department's Coast Care programme.

Coast Care gives financial and technical help for coastal development projects aimed mostly at poor communities, as well as offering education, training and research services. - BuaNews

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