Coast KZN

11 Oct 2016

Blue Flag glory for South Coast

(South Coast Herald)

KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environment Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, with Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, Ray Nkonyeni Municipality Mayor Cynthia Mqwebu and WESSA CEO Dr Thommie Burger.

Marina Beach, one of seven South Coast Blue Flag beaches, celebrates a remarkable 15 consecutive years on the programme.

No fewer than 58 Blue Flags will be proudly flown at coastal sites around South Africa this Blue Flag season, which opens officially on  November 1.

In KZN, nine beaches have been awarded this coveted status.

They are:

* Marina Beach

* Umzumbe

* Ramsgate

* Trafalgar

* Lucien

* Hibberdene

* Southbroom

Margate and Mpenjati did not make the list.

This was announced by the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA) at the national Blue Flag launch event held at Marina Beach on KZN’s South Coast last week.

Marina Beach, one of seven South Coast Blue Flag beaches, celebrates a remarkable 15 consecutive years on the programme.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom pointed out that there is an incredible diversity of marine life along the country’s 3,000km  coastline, and that Blue Flag coverage needs to be doubled in order to protect our natural heritage as this creates tourism and tourism creates jobs.

Mayor of Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, Nomusa Mqwebu, delivered the opening address, saying the Blue Flag is the ideal catalyst to improve tourism.

This year’s event also marked the launch of an exciting new coastal tourism project to be managed and implemented by WESSA in partnership with the National Department of Tourism.
The Tourism Blue Flag Project aims to improve tourism facilities and services offered at Blue Flag beaches across South Africa, while also providing youth employment opportunities.

Through this project, 200 participants will be employed in the role of ‘beach stewards’ and hosted by local coastal municipalities at Blue Flag sites.

The participants will also receive accredited training in environmental education and practical work experience, with the ultimate aim of developing them for further employment in the coastal tourism sector.
Says Mandy Noffke, Tourism Blue Flag Project Manager: “Blue Flag International and WESSA representing Blue Flag in South Africa are excited by this opportunity to partner with national government and to contribute both to the social upliftment of local communities as well as to the quality of our beaches.”

An exciting development in the Blue Flag programme internationally has also been the expansion of Blue Flag accreditation programme to acknowledge sustainable boating operators in the tourism industry.
In the past, sustainable boating operators have simply signed a code-of-conduct with Blue Flag around operating sustainably, but now operators offering boating activities – such as bird, seal and whale watching, cage diving, recreational diving and recreational fishing – can be awarded formal accreditation if they comply with Blue Flag’s newly defined set of strict boating criteria.


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