CAPE TOWN, Oct 8 — The Blue Flag programme is growing rapidly in South Africa, says Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom who has announced 57 sites along the South African coastline which have received Blue Flag status during a ceremony at Knysna in the Southern Cape.
The Blue Flag is a certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach or marina meets its stringent standards. In order to qualify for Blue Flag status, beaches, marinas and boats need to comply with 30 strict criteria, which include environmental management, environmental education, water quality and safety and security
The number of Blue Flag beaches in South Africa this year represents an increase from last year’s total of 46 without any site losing its status.
Hanekom said at the ceremony on Monday that the new sites included Melkbosstrand outside Cape Town, Hobie Beach in Port Elizabeth and Scottburgh Beach in KwaZulu-Natal Province.
“More people are becoming aware of the value of having the status and becoming more environmentally conscious, to say, as a municipality, we have to look after our resources, look after them well. And in looking after them, we obtain a tourism asset, which in the long run creates jobs, creates opportunities, so it’s all a virtuous cycle if you like.”
South Africa was announced as the first country outside of Europe to enter the Blue Flag programme 14 years ago. The country’s 3,200 kilometres of coastline is not only important for environmental conservation, but also as a tourism asset.
The National Coastal Manager at the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa, Ted Knott, said the Blue Flag programme was encouraging environmental education of the coastline.