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Tourism Blue Flag Programme

Tourism Blue Flag Programme

The department is implementing the Tourism Blue Flag Programme utilising the EPWP principles to achieve the targeted number of jobs and tourists to our shores.  The programme aims to promote a SAFE, CLEAN and HEALTHY environment, an improved tourism image which will attract a steadier flow of visitors, increased spending and a stimulated local economy.  The department is implementing the programme in partnership with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA).  The World Tourism Organisation regards Blue Flag as the most well-known eco-label globally with over 4000 sites in over 40 countries.

The programme covers 50 beaches and is spread as follows: KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has 12 beaches, Eastern Cape (EC) has 11 beaches and Western Cape (WC) has 28 beaches. In the 2016/17 financial year, 200 youth were recruited to form part of the programme.  In the 2017/18 financial year, the Tourism Green Coast Programme will add 25 beaches and 100 youth along the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape.  These wild beaches have been identified to be part of the piloting of a new coastal award.

Blue Flag beaches need to adhere to several criteria, as follows:

  • Safety and Services: First Aid, lifeguards, security at beach, access to beach; well maintained and clean facilities, infrastructure and services;
  • Environmental Management: Clean beaches; sound management of dunes, kelp, vegetation, habitats, erosion and sensitive areas; waste management encouraging recycling; control of negative environmental impacts including facilities management; encouragement of sustainable transportation;
  • Water quality: Adherence to international water quality standards that ensure safe swimming;
  • Environmental Education: Clear interpretative signage; awareness raising; running of specific educational activities and monitoring of visitor satisfaction.

The benefits of the Blue Flag Programme

  • Blue Flag certification is an INTERNATIONAL STANDARD for the management of swimming beaches.
  • Tourists and members of the public are given an assurance of a CLEAN, SAFE and HEALTHY facility wherever they see the blue flag flying.

Below is an illustration of where South Africa's Blue Flag beaches participating in the Programme are located:

ProvinceNo of BeachesStatusNo participating
Western Cape3329 Full4 Pilot27
Eastern Cape147 Full7 Pilot11
KwaZulu-Natal209 Full11 Pilot12


The Tourism Blue Flag Programme has a budget of R 40, 000, 000 and will be implemented over 28 months.