GEORGE NEWS - No George beaches have received Blue Flag status this year. This was confirmed yesterday afternoon, 23 October, by Vincent Shacks, general manager of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa) Blue Flag project, after Wessa announced their Blue Flag awards for 2019/2020 in Cape Town.
The Blue Flag drive has been in operation since 1987 and, according to the World Tourism Organisation, it is the most well-known eco-label of its kind.
More than 47 countries across the globe are participating in the programme with almost 4 300 Blue Flag beaches, boats and marinas around the world. South Africa was the first country outside of Europe to be granted Blue Flag accreditation for its beaches and the programme has been locally managed by Wessa, in partnership with participating coastal municipalities, since 2001.
The strict criteria of the programme are set by the international coordinators of the Blue Flag campaign in Europe and the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
Shacks stressed the importance of applying for Blue Flag status. Blue Flag is an international annual award that focuses on the environmental management of coastlines and coastal waters to help tourism growth and development. Although it’s a voluntary eco-label, it’s become an international symbol of quality for beaches, boats and marinas that meet a standard of excellence in the areas of safety, amenities, cleanliness, environmental information and environmental management.
Shacks told the George Herald that 64 awards were made nationally - 45 for beaches, 10 for boats and 9 for marinas. Out of the 45 beaches, 33 are in the Western Cape.
The project also makes provision for a pilot programme. Beaches with pilot status are “in the waiting”, a preliminary phase before qualifying for full Blue Flag status. Wilderness beach currently has pilot status. According to Shacks the Wilderness pilot programme is handled by the Garden Route District Municipality. He is happy with the standard of awards this year.
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