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SA awarded 27 Blue Flag beaches
Friday, 29 October 2010

South Africa was celebrating 10 years of the Blue Flag programme in the country this year with 27 beaches being awarded Blue Flag status for 2010/2011, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the Minister of Tourism, said this week.

"Blue Flag has grown from only three beaches in the first year to 27 for this, the tenth year of the programme. Growth has been significant and sustainable for most coastal municipalities and each year sees new beaches being introduced to the programme," the Minister said at a ceremony held at Santos beach in Mossel Bay.

"Our government, in close co-operation with the tourism industry, is continuously investing in tourism services and facilities in order to provide domestic and international tourists with an exceptional experience. The success of the 2010 World Cup must motivate all of us to continue to strive towards the highest standards. I have always maintained that tourists vote with their feet and if the latest arrival figures to South Africa are anything to go by, our country is getting a resounding vote of confidence from visitors. Foreign arrivals for January to July 2010 show an increase of 18,1% across all markets compared to the same period in 2009."

South Africa was the first country outside of Europe to implement the Blue Flag programme and it was launched here in November 2001 as part of the South African Government's CoastCare initiative.

Van Schalkwyk said research had shown that the investment coastal municipalities made in meeting and sustaining the international quality assurances that Blue Flag accreditation brought, paid off. He announced that the South African beaches that have received Blue Flag accreditation for the 10th year of Blue Flag in South Africa were:

•  MacDougall's Bay, Port Nolloth
•  Yzerfontein main beach, Yzerfontein
•  Clifton 4th beach, Cape Town
•  Camps Bay, Cape Town
•  Muizenberg, Cape Town
•  Strandfontein beach, Cape Town
•  Mnandi beach, Cape Town
•  Bikini beach, Gordon's Bay
•  Kleinmond beach, near Hermanus
•  Hawston beach, near Hermanus
•  Grotto beach, Hermanus
•  Lappiesbaai, Stilbaai, Southern Cape
•  Witsand at the mouth of the Breede River
•  Santos beach, Mossel Bay
•  Hartenbos beach, Mossel Bay
•  Robberg 5 beach, Plettenberg Bay
•  Dolphin beach, Jeffrey's Bay
•  Humewood beach, Port Elizabeth
•  Wells Estate, north of Port Elizabeth
•  Kelly's beach, Port Alfred
•  Kariega main beach, Kenton-on-Sea
•  Umzumbe (Pumula) on the south coast KwaZulu-Natal (new)
•  Lucien beach near Margate (back in the programme)
•  Trafalgar beach, south coast KwaZulu-Natal
•  Marina beach, south coast KwaZulu-Natal
•  Ramsgate beach, near Margate
•  Margate beach

There are currently 14 beaches that have applied to run a pilot or developmental stage of Blue Flag.

"The success of the Blue Flag programme in South Africa over the past 10 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," said Alison Kelly, WESSA's Blue Flag Programme Manager.

An ongoing challenge for many South African beaches will be the need to manage the damage caused to infrastructure and the coastline as a result of changing climatic conditions. Notwithstanding these challenges, municipalities participating in Blue Flag have devoted resources to the rehabilitation of these beaches and the standards necessary to fly the Blue Flag have been quickly re-established.

Blue Flag as an environmental programme also brings significant benefits in terms of improved environmental management of our coastline. This is clear in the highlighting of issues relating to bathing water quality and the need to ensure that infrastructure is effectively managed to minimise impacts on coastal environments. A significant potential threat to Blue Flag sustainability into the future will be the potential negative impacts of land-based pollution on sea bathing water quality.

"We are noticing slow deterioration in bathing water quality along most of the coast and this appears to be related to poor sewerage and stormwater management within the broader catchment that leads to the beaches," said Kelly. She noted that water quality in rivers and estuaries was deteriorating markedly.

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