On Monday, 28 November 2016 an official ceremony was held at Grotto Beach in Hermanus to mark the 16th season of the Blue Flag certification programme in South Africa.
Grotto Beach holds the record of being awarded the longest uninterrupted Blue Flag association of the country.
Other local achievers were Kleinmond Beach and Hawston Beach. Whale-watching boats have recently been introduced into the programme with local vessels the Whale Whisperer, Dream Catcher and Slashfin(Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Marine Dynamics, Gansbaai) all receiving the coveted Blue Flag status this year by complying with the Blue Flag for Whale-watching Boat’s Environmental Code of Conduct.
The event was hosted by the Overstrand Municipality and included an address by Overstrand Deputy Mayor, Dudley Coetzee, who said, “Tourism plays a pivotal role in the local economy; it is therefore essential that we look after our beaches and maintain the necessary standards to ensure that both tourists and locals can continue to enjoy this natural asset.”
Overstrand Deputy Mayor, Ald Dudley Coetzee (centre) along with fellow councillors, protection services personnel and municipal officials , as well as various other stakeholders were recently pictured at Grotto Beach in Hermanus at an official ceremony to mark the 2016 Blue Flag campaign.
The co-ordinated ceremonial raising of the Blue, South African Flag and Overstrand flags that followed added a colourful component and drew collective gasps of appreciation from the audience.
Blue Flag is an international annual award given to beaches that meet a standard of excellence in the areas of safety, amenities, cleanliness, environmental information and environmental management.
In South Africa, the Blue Flag programme is managed by WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) and participating local authorities under the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Coastcare initiative. The strict criteria of the programme are set by the international coordinators of the Blue Flag campaign in Europe, the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education). South Africa was the first country outside Europe to be granted Blue Flag accreditation for its beaches.