The Eastern Cape boasts six operational Blue Flag beaches:
The Blue Flag is an international annual award that focuses on the environmental management, environmental education, water quality and safety of the coastline and coastal waters to help tourism growth and development.
Sites are required to apply and reapply each year to be considered for the Blue Flag award and applications are reviewed by a national and international jury. The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa) has been the national implementer of the Blue Flag Eco-label in South Africa since 2001 and the strict criteria of the programme are set by the international co-ordinators of the Blue Flag campaign in Europe, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
Paul Lynch, Owner of Inzolo Exclusive Game Lodge in the Eastern Cape, says both Kings and Hobie are popular beaches. “Kings is a safe beach that has good bathing conditions, however, Hobie must be the most popular as it is close to major hotels and next to the pier.”
Maintaining a high quality
For the past three years, WESSA has implemented a coastal tourism and youth development project in partnership with the National Department of Tourism – the Tourism Blue Flag project. Annika van Heerden, WESSA Spokesperson, said: “This project has seen 200 participants taking on the role of ‘Beach Stewards’ at Blue Flag sites around the country with the aim of improving the experience of local, domestic and international visitors to South African beaches. The Beach Stewards are hosted by local coastal municipalities and are involved in daily beach activities and helping beach managers to maintain high Blue Flag standards relating to safety, environmental management, water quality and environmental education at their beaches.”
Accessible tourism on Eastern Cape beaches
Van Heerden told Tourism Update that Dolphin beach had recently received an amphibious wheelchair that WESSA, in partnership with the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, funded through The Ford Motor Company. “This was donated with the support of funding made available by The Ford Motor Company Fund, and will be freely available for differently abled beachgoers to use with the assistance of the Blue Flag Beach Stewards, or the lifeguards on duty.”