GEORGE NEWS - - Wilderness Beach on 3 December hoisted its Pilot Blue Flag for the 2019/20 season during a short ceremony at the beach in front of Salina's Restaurant.
The beach incorporates jurisdiction of SANParks, Garden Route District Municipality and George Municipality.
The Blue Flag is a joint project of these role players, with major involvement of Salina's Restaurant, which overlooks Wilderness beach, and with the support of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa) that manages the Blue Flag programme in South Africa.
It is the second consecutive year the beach has Pilot Blue Flag status since Garden Route District Municipality re-applied for the accolade.
Wilderness had full status in previous years but skipped application in 2017 due to administrative changes at the district municipality.
Addressing role players at the ceremony, Garden Route District Municipality head of Disaster Management Gerhard Otto said the role players had hoped that Wilderness Beach would earn full Blue Flag status this year, but new changes in the Wessa Blue Flag Beach requirements had made it impossible on short notice.
"Salina's had made its disabled toilets available to disabled beachgoers, which was sufficient in the past to qualify, but this is no longer the case," said Otto.
"The George Municipality has already allocated funding for such upgrades at the public toilets located in the parking area at the beach, but implementation of these upgrades was unfortunately outside the Blue Flag application time frame. We believe this will be resolved next year and expect that Wilderness will have full Blue Flag status for the 2020/21 season."
Garden Route District Mayor Memory Booysen said the Pilot Blue Flag certificate ensures close scrutiny of beach management standards such as water quality, public safety, facility management, the provision of quality services, environmental management and commitment towards environmental education and information.
"I am confident we can attain full Blue Flag status and together reap the fruits of the programme's inherent benefits for many years to come," said Booysen.
Wilderness Ward Councillor Marlene Barnardt thanked the many role players and complimented Salina's Restaurant owner Massimo Mariotti for his involvement. She cited his role as a stellar example of the private sector working with local government and others for the greater good of the community.
Mariotti said patrons often comment on the presence of a Blue Flag. "National and international tourists recognise the benefits associated with the Blue Flag and we believe it is very important for tourism in our village and on the Garden Route to have this accolade," he said.
The Blue Flag season in Wilderness runs from 1 December 2019 to 31 January 2020.
'We bring you the latest George, Garden Route news'