WESSA-managed sustainable tourism initiative to be expanded

As from December South Africa will have a record 60 Blue Flag members of the global Blue Flag programme — 51 beaches, five marinas and four sustainable tourism boats.

IN addition the country will have thirty-three ‘candidate’ beaches participating in a new Blue Flag pilot programme aimed at bolstering participation in the sustainable tourism initiative that also aims to protect the natural environment.

The annual Blue Flag season runs from 1st December, and this year marks its 21st ‘birthday’ since inception in South Africa. Worldwide more than 4,500 beaches, marinas and tourism boats enjoy the ‘eco-label’ Blue Flag status. The programme also campaigns against disparity, inequality, unemployment and health threats.

Blue Flag is operated locally by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) which held a ceremony in late October at Grotto Beach in Hermanus. South Africa was the first country outside Europe to join the Blue Flag Programme. “Since then, many countries outside of Europe have followed South Africa’s example and joined Blue Flag giving the programme its international recognition,” WESSA said in a statement issued after their event.  “WESSA is committed to continue working together with municipalities and tourism operators to build the Blue Flag programme to its full potential and to restore the tourism industry after the devastating effects of COVD-19. We also aim to expand on conserving our marine and coastal environment, raise environmental awareness and increase sound environmental practices amongst tourists, coastal communities and beach managers,” WESSA said.

The coastal town of Knysna fared particularly well in the latest Blue Flag awards, with two beaches and two marinas earning the coveted Blue Flag Label. Commenting on this achievement Acting Knysna Municipal Manager Dawid Adonis said the Awards were a welcome boost ahead of the summer season and THE expected return of visitors to the Garden Route area:  “Our beaches at Buffalo Bay and Brenton on Sea have once again gained Blue Flag status, as have the Thesen Islands and Thesen Harbour Town marinas,” Adonis said. “The greater Knysna area is known for its beauty, including the forests, Cape Fynbos and, of course, beaches. We are proud of this natural heritage and thank Blue Flag Global and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa for this recognition,” he said.

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