Coast KZN

03 Dec 2020

Amanzimtoti to raise the Blue Flag

Bianca Lalbahadur (South Coast Sun) Picture: The Flag Status was celebrated by all.

The Blue Flag will officially be raised on Saturday, 5 December 2020, and the public is invited to relish in the momentous occasion.

“It immediately elevates Amanzimtoti into a different category on the international as well as national tourism map. This is due to our dedicated volunteers, the majority of whom drive or participate in environmental projects, or those who tirelessly report faults. They, along with our municipal beach staff who brace the elements daily, are the real unsung heroes of the day. Each person who assisted to help keep the beach clean contributed to a small piece of the puzzle,” said Ward 97 councillor, André Beetge.

The Blue Flag initiative has its origins in France in 1985, with the first European beaches operating from 1987 and areas outside Europe participating from 2001 when South Africa also joined. It challenges local authorities to achieve and maintain a certain standard of water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety. It is an internationally recognised eco-label to bring together tourism and environmental sectors at local, regional and national levels. Water quality, sustained by regular sampling, is of utmost importance. Coupled with the actual beach cleanliness, provision for litter collection and the removal thereof, environmental programme and education, access to tourism information, prescribed signage, deployment of trained and skilled lifeguards that meet the necessary criteria, emergency equipment and backup procedures and adequate amenities including provision for the disabled that extends the ease of access to the beach facilities.

“The beach management building that facilitates the lifeguard tower, tourism office, law enforcement, emergency trauma room and administration is scheduled for an upgrade and paint. Several other amenities were recently upgraded to meet the requested criteria. Steps leading off the main parking area next to the management building have been coated to minimise slipping, additional litter bins have been installed and additional signage erected. We managed to replace all lifesaving equipment in 2019 and all lifeguards who were unskilled since the relaxation of Covid-19 regulations have passed skills, fitness and first aid requirements.

Driven by private enterprise in cooperation and liaison with municipal authorities, environmental exercises, activities and education remain paramount and ongoing, and the privately funded Unimog with litter rake in tow could soon be fully operational. While Durban Tourism has already enhanced the beach with a massive photo-frame, we are also working on funding towards some new vehicles and the possibility of an outdoor gym at the beach is starting to look more a reality that a possibility.”

East Coast Radio will be broadcasting from the main beach between 10 am and 2 pm on Saturday, which will coincide with the raising of the flag.

“This belongs to all of us. It is now our collective responsibility to ensure that we can maintain the standards so that the flag can remain blowing in the wind and not be brought down due to failure. Too many people have worked just too hard to get us where we are today.”