IT’S official – three Port Elizabeth beaches have been awarded world-class status and the right to wave the Blue Flag.
The announcement was made in Hermanus in the Western Cape yesterday.
The municipality hailed the award to Kings, Humewood and Hobie beaches as a huge achievement.
“The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is extremely proud that no fewer than three of its beaches have been awarded full Blue Flag status by the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA [Wessa] for the Blue Flag 2015-16 season,” municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said.
“Humewood, Hobie and Kings Beach will be flying this international eco-label as a reassurance, especially to our overseas visitors, that excellence in safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental management has been met.
“Our beaches are ready for the thousands of visitors that will descend on them this holiday season.” Speaking after receiving the Blue Flag awards, sport, recreation, arts and culture portfolio chairman Andiswa Mama said: “It is a huge achievement; hard work has paid off.
“Work is already in progress at other beaches, like Wells Estate, to achieve the same status.
“The municipality places a very high value on the Blue Flag. It is the most coveted and prestigious international award that could be bestowed on our beaches,” Mama said.
Humewood Beach, along with Grotto Beach in Hermanus, was also acknowledged as one of only two beaches in South Africa to have enjoyed Blue Flag status for the past 15 years. Humewood was the first beach in the country to achieve the coveted Blue Flag status in 2000.
More than 40 countries participate in the Blue Flag programme.
The Eastern Cape now has a total of eight beaches with full Blue Flag Status for the 2015-16 season, with seven other beaches being awarded pilot status.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said at the event that Blue Flag status should become the norm at all South Africa’s beaches. He also announced a formal partnership between his department and Wessa towards a coastal job creation project. Hanekom said the Wessamanaged project would involve 200 people working on Blue Flag beaches around the country to help maintain the Blue Flag status at those beaches.