Durban Beaches Reclaim Blue Flag Status.
After a seven year long wait, we are thrilled that Durban’s Ushaka and Westbrook beach have been awarded Blue Flag status. The Blue Flag status of Ushaka and Westbrook was announced at a function in Hermanus in the Western Cape on Tuesday.
The World Tourism Organisation regards Blue Flag status, a voluntary eco-label for beaches, marinas and boats, as the most globally recognized eco-label.
Five other beaches – Umgababa, Brighton, Umhlanga and two beaches at Umdloti have been awarded pilot blue flag. There is a possibility they will be upgraded to full blue flag status after a year.
As pilot sites, the beaches had to pass 33 different water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management and safety and services criteria in order to get the thumbs up for the international quality assurance programme.
Prior to leaving the program, Durban had four beaches with a Blue Flag status; Bay of Plenty, Addington, uMhlanga and North Beach. However they were removed from the programme as a result of poor water and sand quality and sub-standard amenities.
The eThekwini Municipality and private sector has since invested close to R2 billion over the last four years upgrading the beachfront.
DA councillor Geoff Pullan, who has supported the programme since its introduction into the city more than a decade ago, was in Hermanus for the announcement. Geoff Pullan said he was absolutely delighted.
“We are a tourist city and our beaches are our number one attraction. We want them to be nice to look at and nice to swim in. It’s an international standard much like the hotel grading system. It will also keep us on our toes to ensure we don’t lose the status and hopefully more of our beaches will achieve Blue Flag status in future,” said Pullan.
”Looking after the environment actually pays because if the beaches are clean and well organised then a whole lot of other things fall into place too.
”The crime is down in the area, you’ll find that the marine life benefits, so there’s more for people to do and there’s animals to see there. Of course as a country, we bring in tourists because they love to see our animals and they love our nice, warm beaches,” he added.
Beach goers have to look after the facilities as clean beaches are vital to the city’s economy, advised Pullan.