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Celebrating the South Coast’s Blue Flag status during the national Blue Flag programme are (from left) Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, HCM mayor Cynthia Mqwebu and WESSA CEO, Dr Thommie Burger.
Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwayk, also known as ‘Kortboek’ (former New National Party leader) visited the South Coast for the annual national Blue Flag launch on Tuesday.
The Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA) marked National Marine Week by celebrating the national launch of this year’s Blue Flag programme at Ramsgate Beach.
The Hibiscus Coast Municipality boasts seven Blue Flag beaches on the South Coast, namely Hibberdene, Umzumbe, Southport, Lucien, Marina Beach and Trafalgar. Ramsgate beach has pilot status because of its current water quality.
The Blue Flag programme has been running internationally for 27 years and has been implemented in South Africa through WESSA since 2001.
Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk encouraged everyone at the ceremony to look after the beaches, and he emphasised that having Blue Flag status attracts tourism which is good for the economy.
“People may see obtaining a Blue Flag beach as a challenge, yet it is not difficult. We just need local people to work together in keeping all beaches user freindly,” said Mr van Schalkwyk.
He added that this would not only boost the economy but would also help in job creation.
“HCM is one of the few municipalities which runs a Blue Flag status for 365 days a year,” said HCM mayor Cynthia Mqwebu.
“I would like to thank everyone who has played a role in maintaining our Blue Flag status for seven of our beaches. I would also like to thank general workers who keep the beaches clean,” she added.
The programme is designed to raise environmental awareness and increase sound environmental practices among tourists, local populations and beach management.
To achieve Blue Flag status, four aspects of coastal management have to be met – water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and services.