WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) has announced a record 82 Blue Flag sites for South Africa at the national launch of this year’s Blue Flag season held at Thesen Islands Marina in Knysna on the Garden Route today. The 2014-2015 South African Blue Flag season opens officially on 1 November.
Blue Flag is the prestigious, voluntary eco-label for beaches, marinas and boats that is recognised as a trusted symbol of quality and regarded by the World Tourism Organisation as the most well-known eco-label globally. It has been awarded to more than 4000 beaches and marinas in 48 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean.
The decisions of the 2014 International Blue Flag Jury were announced at the launch event and were preceded by a rigorous multi-stage approval process involving both local and international assessments. The 82 Blue Flag sites in South Africa this year consist of 45 beaches, 6 marinas and 6 whale-watching, commercial or private boats that have been award Full Status; in addition to 25 sites that have been awarded Pilot Status, which is an important developmental stage acting as an incubation period for potential Blue Flag sites.
Speaking at the launch event Minister Hanekom said that investing in the environment has significant economic benefits. He emphasised how important the WESSA Blue Flag Programme is for coastal and marine conservation and in turn for tourism, adding that tourism is a very important sector of our economy as it is responsible for creating 1.4 million jobs in South Africa. This is more than the total number of jobs in the mining sector. He went on to say that recognising this point is important given that we are facing big challenges with unemployment, and that every bit of investment and enhancement that brings more tourism to our country makes a substantial contribution towards economic growth and towards job creation.
On World Oceans Day in June this year WESSA announced that an unprecedented number of Blue Flag applications had been received, and rather appropriately, the announcement of the record number of Full Status Blue Flag sites has now followed during National Marine Week.
For a beach to get a Blue Flag status it has to follow strict guidelines and put systems in a place to make sure that the beach commits to environmental management, water quality improvement, safety and security.
KZN was awarded 25 Blue Flags – 9 of those being Full Status and 16 with Pilot Status (P). These are as follows:
|Park Rynie (P)|
|Scottburgh Main (P)|
|Dodokweni North (P)|
|Dodokweni Main (P)|
|Umdloti Main (P)|
|Umdloti Tidal (P)|
|Umhlanga Main (P)|