Overstrand Municipality has once again secured Blue Flag status for Grotto, Kleinmond and Hawston beaches as well as pilot status for Castle Beach in Pearly Beach.
A total of 46 beaches, 8 marinas and 12 sustainable tourism boats around South Africa have been awarded Blue Flag status for the 2018/19 season. This was announced at the Blue Flag launch at Santos Beach in Mossel Bay on 12 October 2018, which forms part of the National Blue Flag Programme, co-ordinated by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA).
The Blue Flag is the prestigious, voluntary eco-label for beaches that is recognised as a trusted symbol of quality, designed to raise environmental awareness and increase sound environmental practices among tourists and local residents and improve proper beach management.
Overstrand’s Blue Flag co-ordinator Lauren Rainbird (centre), Cllrs Arnie Africa and Grant Cohen, received Overstrand’s 2018/19 Blue Flag certificates for Grotto, Hawston, Kleinmond and Pilot Castle Beach. With them are Dr Thommie Burger, CEO of WESSA (far left) and Mossel Bay Deputy Mayor Dirk Kotzé (far right).
Pilot beaches are not required to comply with all Blue Flag criteria, but must work towards meeting fundamental elements like water quality standards within a two year period to stand a chance to ultimately acquire full Blue Flag status.
The Municipality hails the award as a real feather in its tourism cap, since the Blue Flag is regarded by the World Tourism Organisation as the most coveted and respected international award that could be bestowed on top beaches.
Grotto, Kleinmond and Hawston beaches offer top-notch life-saving standards, effective top-rate ablution and parking facilities and of course access for the disabled to ensure that both local and international tourists will have the privilege of enjoying pristine beaches where everyone can make the most of all amenities at their disposal.
Blue Flag standards are only enforced at the participating beach’s stated season, which varies from just one month of a year to the full 12 months.
Blue Flag status is awarded one season at a time and municipalities must apply annually to renew the status of their beaches. The Blue Flag reviewing panel moreover reserves the right to accept or withdraw membership should the qualifying criteria not be fulfilled.
To achieve Blue Flag status, 33 main criteria have to be met, including:
- Compliance with Blue Flag criteria
- Information relating to local eco-systems
- Environmental Management of beaches
- Beach facilities such as parking, access points, cleanliness
- Access for the physically disabled.
- Safety services provided on the beaches
- Water quality, environmental education and information