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SA launches eighth season of Blue Flag

by BuaNews Online
on 06 Nov 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

South Africa launched the eighth season of Blue Flag on Wednesday on Marine beach, San Lameer on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal.

At the start of the new season, South Africa had 35 beaches participating in the programme.

Of these, nineteen received official Blue Flag accreditation for next year.

Blue Flag is an international annual award given to beaches that meet excellence in the areas of safety, amenities, cleanliness, environmental information and environmental management.

The Blue Flag programme is currently run in almost 40 countries globally and interest in the programme continues to grow.

There are now almost 3 500 Blue Flag beaches and marinas around the world.

Since the inception of the Blue Flag programme in November 2001, the South African government (through the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism) and WESSA (the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa) launched the programme, Blue Flag South Africa has grown significantly.

South Africa was the first country outside of Europe to implement the Blue Flag programme, and since 2001, the programme has become a truly global initiative with 38 countries participating and a further seven countries undertaking the feasibility stage.

The success of the Blue Flag programme in South Africa 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.

Research has shown that commitment of municipalities to Blue Flag makes sound economic sense with tourism.

Research on Margate beach for example, indicates that the value of Blue Flag status at the beach could generate income amounting to tens of millions of rands per annum.

Blue Flag, as an environmental programme also brings significant benefits in terms of improved environmental management of our coastline.

The South African beaches that have received Blue Flag accreditation are:
- Margate beach
- Ramsgate main beach
- Marina beach, Southbroom
- Hibberdene beach
- Kelly's beach, Port Alfred
- Wells Estate, Port Elizabeth
- Humewood beach, Port Elizabeth
- King's beach, Port Elizabeth
- Hobie beach, Port Elizabeth
- Dolphin beach, Jeffrey's Bay
- Lappiesbaai beach, Stilbaai
- Grotto beach, Hermanus
- Hawston beach, near Hermanus
- Bikini beach, Gordon's Bay
- Mnandi Beach, Strandfontein Cape Town
- Clifton 4th beach, Cape Town
- Camps Bay beach, Cape Town
- Muizenberg beach, Cape Town
- Strandfontein beach, Cape Town

A number of beaches narrowly missed receiving Blue Flag accreditation mostly as a result of the failure to meet management issues required by the programme, for example the sampling of water quality.

Blue Flag beaches are monitored every two weeks to ensure safe and healthy swimming conditions, some municipalities encounter problems with ensuring regular sampling.

All municipalities that missed accreditation have decided to remain in the programme for another year of pilot status.

These pilot beaches are all committed to having full status Blue Flag accreditation in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The pilot Blue Flag beaches for the 2008-9 season are:
- MacDougall's Bay, Port Nolloth (Richtersveld Municipality)
- Yzerfontein Main beach (Yzerfontein Municipality)
- Fish Hoek (City of Cape Town)
- Big Bay beach, Bloubergstrand (City of Cape Town)
- Kleinmond beach, near Hermanus (Overstrand Municipality)
- Robberg 5, Plettenberg Bay (Bitou Municipality)
- Pollock beach, Port Elizabeth (Mandela Metro)
- Boknes beach, Eastern Cape (Ndlambe Municipality)
- Cannon Rocks beach, Eastern Cape (Ndlambe Municipality)
- Kariega Main beach, Eastern Cape (Ndlambe Municipality)
- Gonubie beach, East London (Buffalo City Municipality)
- Trafalgar beach (Hibiscus Coast Municipality)
- Umzumbe beach (Hibiscus Coast Municipality)
- St Michaels beach (Hibiscus Coast Municipality)
- Lucien beach, Margate (Hibiscus Coast)
- Alkantstrand, Richards Bay (Umhlatuze Municipality)

Blue Flag South Africa, is in the process of expanding the Blue Flag programme into the SADC and Indian Ocean region.

It is envisaged to launch Blue Flag on islands in the Indian Ocean within the next year. - BuaNews

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