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Blue Flag 2013
Blue Flag
Media statement by the office of the Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk on the occasion of the launch of the Blue Flag season 2013/2014 in Ramsgate, KwaZulu-Natal
Last month World Tourism Day 2013 was celebrated across the provinces with the theme: Tourism and Water. In keeping with this theme, Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, launched the new Blue Flag season in Ramsgate today.
“The South Coast is a very special jewel in the crown of KwaZulu-Natal. This is indeed a fitting venue for the event given that the KZN South Coast is the stronghold of the Blue Flag programme in the province” the minister said.
The environment is one of tourism’s most valuable resources and they enjoy a mutually beneficial sustainable relationship. Many touristic activities depend very directly on water, not least golf courses, rivers and lakes, pools and spas, irrigated gardens and hotel guest rooms. For other tourism activities that depend on fauna and flora and a moderate climate, the dependence on water is indirect. As the global sector grows, its impact on natural resources also grows, and therefore the need for sustainable planning and management becomes imperative for this industry – and Blue Flag does just that.
In order to promote and ensure quality water for inland and marine tourism, the Blue Flag and Blue Drop programmes were introduced. The Blue Flag programme promotes sustainable development marine areas, and the Blue Drop is an innovative means to manage the tap water quality.
The voluntary eco-label is given to beaches that meet 32 main criteria spanning over four aspects of coastal management: (1) water quality, (2) environmental education and information, (3) environmental management and (4) safety and services, which include excellent life-saving standards, top-rate parking and sparkling ablution facilities.
Blue Flag originated in Europe in 1987 with the sole purpose of encouraging beaches to comply with the European Union’s Bathing Water Directive. From that starting point, the programme has grown and developed significantly. Internationally, this year sees the programme running successfully for 27 years. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the international Blue Flag is the most well-known and oldest thriving eco-label of its kind. Currently, more than 40 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean are participating in the programme. In 2013, internationally, 3 849 beaches and marinas were awarded Blue Flag status.
This year, South Africa celebrates its 13th year of running the Blue Flag successfully. High on our list of achievements we celebrate the growth of Blue Flag beaches, from only three beaches in the first year to 41 beaches and 5 marinas for this year. Twelve beaches also hold pilot status. Growth has been significant and sustainable for most coastal municipalities and each year sees new beaches being introduced to the programme. The host province, KZN proudly boasts four beaches with pilot status in the eThekwini municipality.
Although the original focus of the international Blue Flag Programme was on encouraging beaches to comply with water quality standards, it has since expanded to take a holistic view of safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental management issues, with a strong focus on environmental education and biodiversity conservation. In addition to beaches, the programme now also provides environmental accreditation to marinas and whale-watching boats. This year – for the first time – Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were included in the International Blue Flag Criteria.
We have the capability and the means, the welcoming culture, and the varied, textured, beautiful destination that the world’s travellers – ever more demanding and discerning – want when they choose a destination. However, in order for South Africa to further optimise its tourism potential, it is critical that we offer both domestic and international visitors clean, safe and well-managed beaches.
It is important to note that tourism growth and development, environmental conservation, and social wellbeing can be mutually reinforcing. Tourism can contribute towards a green economy transition through investments leading to water efficiency, climate-change mitigation, waste reduction, biodiversity and cultural heritage conservation, and the strengthening of linkages with local communities.
Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world and one that is heavily dependent on a natural resource base. Attractive coastal landscapes, such sandy beaches, dune areas, estuaries, and coastal lakes are also preferred sites for tourism development. Hence, uncontrolled and ill-planned tourism significantly degrades the environment.
Water management is important in that it promotes a good image of the country which in turn will result in tourism growth and job creation. The lack of water management in the country can result in the decrease of investment and have a negative impact on the environment, conservation and health.
In South Africa, tourism has taken its place as a vital contributor to economic growth, catapulting South Africa from a pre-1994 pariah to one of the world’s fastest-growing and most desired leisure holiday destinations today. In 1993, the country received just over 3.4 million international arrivals. In 2012, we witnessed over 13 million international arrivals, of which some 9.2 million were international tourists. In 2012, our overall year-on-year international tourist arrivals growth was 10.2%. This was against an average global industry growth of 4%, as reported by the UNWTO.
Domestic tourism is a key component of our journey going forward. At any given time, three quarters of all tourists in South Africa are South Africans, with domestic tourists having contributed R101 billion to our economy in 2011.
It is therefore of critical importance that all role-players in the industry continue to contribute towards the growth and development of our sector. This is exactly what the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (WESSA) has done as research indicated that the Blue Flag programme has impacts in terms of economic benefits, job creation and improved environmental management.
Blue Flag gives local and foreign visitors the knowledge that their beaches adhere to international safety and other tourist standards. Feedback has shown that both international and domestic tourists value the quality assurances that Blue Flag beaches offer. South Africa’s Blue Flag beaches increase our desirability and reputation as a world-class destination and enhance the country’s competitive edge as a world-class and internationally desirable tourist destination.
It is a known fact that, as the number of Blue Flag beaches increases in South Africa, domestic visitors are increasingly exercising their choices in which beaches they visit and, as with international trends, our Blue Flag beaches are becoming the ‘beach of choice’.
The success of the Blue Flag programme in South Africa could not have been achieved without the support of coastal municipalities – from Mayors and Councillors down to the beach cleaning officials and lifeguards and beach managers working day-to-day on the beaches.
Providing world-class beach facilities in a country where beach tourism is an important part of our ‘brand’ is a great tool for marketing. And offering international and domestic tourists opportunities to choose destinations which have Blue Flag beaches will certainly help improve South Africa’s competitiveness in the global market.
Blue Flag 2013 / 2014
Host province: KZN beaches with pilot status: eThekwini municipality – Umdloti main, Umdloti tidal, uShaka and Umgababa.
​Marinas Marina and Beach​
​Thesen Island, Knysna new
​Yachport, Saldanha Bay
​Granger Bay Water Club, Cape Town
​False Bay Yacht Club, Cape Town
5​ ​Royal Alfred Marina, Port Alfred
​KZN Beaches ​Southport Beach, HCM
​Ramsgate Beach, HCM
​Lucien Beach, HCM
​Umzumbe Beach, HCM
​Trafalgar Beach, HCM
​Marina Beach, HCM
​18 ​Alkanstrand Beach Richards Bay, uMhlatuze
Western Cape ​Strandfontein Beach, Vredendal, Matzikama
​Silverstroomstrand, Atlantis, COCT
​Camps Bay, COCT
​Clifton IV, COCT
​Bikini, Gordon’s Bay, COCT
​Muizenberg, COCT
​Strandfontein, COCT
​Mnandi, COCT
​Llandudno, COCT
​Kleinmond, Overstrand
​Hawston, Hermanus, Overstrand
​Grotto, Hermanus, Overstrand
​Witsand, Hessequa
​Lappiesbaai, Stilbaai, Hessequa
​Gouritsmond, Hessequa new
​Preekstoel, Stilbaai new
​De Bakke, Mossel Bay
​Kleinbrak, Mossel Bay
​Santos, Mossel Bay
​Hartenbos, Mossel Bay
​Wilderness, Garden Route National Park, Eden
​Buffalo Bay, Knysna
​Brenton Bay, Knysna
​Keurboomstrand, Plettenberg Bay, Bitou
​Robberg V, Plettenberg Bay, Bitou
​26 ​Nature’s Valley, Garden Route National Park, Bitou
​Eastern Cape ​Dolphin Beach, Jeffrey’s Bay, Kouga
​Humewood Beach, NMMB
​Kings Beach, NMMB
​Kariega, Kenton-on-Sea, Ndlambe
​Middle Beach, Ndlambe new
​Kleinemond, West Beach, Ndlambe new
​Boknes Beach, Ndlambe
8​ ​Kellys Beach, Ndlambe
​Northern Cape ​MacDougalls Bay, Port Nolloth, Richtersveld
For further information:
Natasha Rockman
Ministry of Tourism
Cell: +27 (0) 76 429 2264
For more info on Blue Flag:
Sheivane Datadin
Cell: +27 (0) 71 249 9713
Issued by Ministry of Tourism