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Five of the seven beaches have been on the programme for five consecutive years.
Twenty-four of the top South African beaches that have achieved Blue- Flag status for the forthcoming 2015/16 season have also received special recognition for their sustained commitment to marine and coastal conservation through their long-term and continuous participation in the international Blue-Flag programme. The new Blue-Flag season opens officially on 1 November.
The awards also acknowledge and celebrate the sustained partnerships that WESSA has built with key municipalities around the country, who have recognised the value of Blue Flag not just to the environment but also to tourism, economic development and job creation.
South Africa has 3 200km of coastline and offers an amazing variety of coastal marine life. And of this extensive coastline, the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast covers 120km of these Blue-Flag beaches alone.
“Without the hard work and commitment of all involved, the municipality, the beach guardians such as WESSA and the private sector, this would simply not be possible,” said Ugu South Coast Tourism CEO, Justin Mackrory.
“It boils down to respect and love for our natural resources. What is also significant to note is that the KZN South Coast has the highest number of permanently managed Blue-Flag beaches in Africa.”
He said it was a major draw card for visitors.
“In fact, we attended Das Boot in Dusseldorf, Germany earlier this year and the status of our beaches and number of Blue Flags were of sincere interest to potential visitors, trade and media alike,” said Mackrory.
Das Boot is the largest boat and oceanic exhibition in the world, attracting over 230 000 people in less than 10 days.
“Having our unique selling points such as being home to the highest number of Blue-Flag beaches in Africa, goes a long way in securing our spot in the limelight and attracting visitors. We really do live in paradise.”
Referring to Operation Phakisa, the ocean economy and job potential around our coastline, Minister Hanekom said he believes that the vision for the Blue Flag should be that it becomes the norm for South Africa’s beaches to have Blue Flag status.
Minister Hanekom announced that WESSA and the Department of Tourism are entering into a formal partnership with a coastal job creation project, which will involve 200 people working on Blue-Flag beaches all around the country.
This project, to be managed by WESSA, will create employment for people living along our coastal areas who will work to help beaches maintain their Blue-Flag status, to keep the environment healthy and to improve the experience of beach-goers.
This will in turn lead to more tourism, new industries and more jobs.