Blue Flag awards for Plett 

Bitou LM receiving their Flags and Certificates for full Blue Flag status for Robberg 5, The Waves, Nature's Valley, Lookout, The Dunes, Singing Kettle.
Published: October 20th, 2023

6 Blue Flag Beach and 2 Blue Flag Boat awards for Plett in 2023-2024

WESSA’s Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards 2023/2024 – Recognising excellence in sustainable coastal management

As warmer weather and swim season approach, WESSA celebrates South Africa’s pristine coastal destinations with the coveted Blue Flag and Green Coast status awards today (Friday), solidifying its position as a premier coastal destination.

SA’s top 48 beaches, flanked by six picturesque coastal spots, known for their breathtaking natural beauty, are proudly boasting their eco-labels, demonstrating continued commitment to sustainable tourism.

Plett received full Blue Flag status for its beaches including Robberg 5, The Waves, Nature’s Valley, Lookout, The Dunes and Singing Kettle. The town also received 2 Blue Flag awards for Offshore Adventures’ boats.

Nature's Valley is awarded Green Coast Status. This is the first year with Green Coast status. The programme is championed locally by the Natures Valley Trust with support from Bitou LM and Plett Tourism
Nature’s Valley is awarded Green Coast Status. This is the first year with Green Coast status. The programme is championed locally by the Natures Valley Trust with support from Bitou Municipality and Plett Tourism.

A further four marinas and six tourism boats have been acknowledged at this season’s event at Salinas in Wilderness, hosted by George Municipality – the perfect backdrop for the distinguished gathering who applauded the outstanding contributions made towards sustainable coastal management. The awards also allow for potential Blue Flag sites to participate in a pilot programme, where 23 pilot sites were recognised this year for their efforts in meeting the minimum requirements for Blue Flag status.

Today’s ceremony showcased exceptional initiatives and projects highlighting innovative approaches to sustainable practices, conservation, education, and community involvement. By shining a spotlight on these achievements, the event inspired and encouraged others to embrace sustainable coastal management principles.

The programme has been locally managed by WESSA since 2001 in partnership with the global Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and participating coastal municipalities.

“We are thrilled to host and support WESSA’s Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards 2023/2024,” said George Municipal Mayor, Leon van Wyk. “This event not only recognises the exceptional efforts of coastal communities, but also serves as a platform to share best practices and foster collaboration in our collective mission to safeguard our precious coastal ecosystems.”

George Executive Mayor, Leon van Wyk joins WESSA CEO Helena Atkinson, Senior Sustainability Programme Manager, Tevya Lotriet and George Municipal Manager, Dr Michele Gratz in today’s flag hoisting ceremony at Wilderness.
George Executive Mayor, Leon van Wyk joins WESSA CEO Helena Atkinson, Senior Sustainability Programme Manager, Tevya Lotriet and George Municipal Manager, Dr Michele Gratz in today’s flag hoisting ceremony at Wilderness.

The awards serve as a benchmark for sustainable tourism where qualifying criteria for Blue Flag and Green Coast status involve a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria which must be met and maintained. By meeting these rigorous standards in water quality, environmental management, safety, and education, Blue Flag beaches, green coastlines and marinas inspire visitors to become responsible global citizens.

Local shark cage diving operator, Samantha Hansen, of White Shark Diving Company in Van Dyk’s Bay in Gansbaai was ecstatic after being awarded Blue Flag status for the first time.

“This has been an overwhelmingly emotional moment for us, and I can’t help but express how overjoyed I felt. The recognition of our efforts with such a prestigious award was beyond our expectations, and it filled me with a deep sense of accomplishment and gratitude,” said Hansen whose company, provides shark cage diving and bespoke eco tours.

“We are truly honoured, excited and committed to continue to maintaining the high standards that the Blue Flag represents.”

WESSA CEO, Helena Atkinson acknowledged and commended the exceptional efforts made by local authorities, communities and volunteers in achieving excellent world class standards this season.

“It takes great dedication and effort to manage a beach or marina to meet the rigorous standards set out for this prestigious award, and we extend our warmest congratulations to all the deserving sites that have achieved the eco labels,” she said adding that achieving Blue Flag or Green Coast eco label was not just a status symbol but an indication of collective effort, commitment and compliance.

“By providing ongoing education programmes and training, we are able to provide citizens the key information about beach quality management at Blue Flag or Green Coast sites. It is also a way to recognise the hard work done by municipalities in providing safe natural spaces and preserving our natural resources for future generations,” she said.


ABOUT WESSA:

WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) is a leading non-profit organisation dedicated to advocating for sustainable solutions, conservation, championing policy initiatives and promoting environmental awareness that lead to a healthier planet. WESSA has consistently been at the forefront of the environmental sector, driving positive change and inspiring communities. Through its diverse range of programmes and initiatives, WESSA has been instrumental in fostering a culture of environmental responsibility across South Africa.

WESSA’s Mission: Educate. Advocate. Act.

We educate, advocate and act for environmental and social justice through sustainability education, strategic partnerships, and conservation programmes to drive climate action, protect and restore biodiversity, and reduce pollution.

WESSA’s Vision: To be a trusted and highly effective organisation working for environmental and social justice in support of a healthy and sustainable planet.


ABOUT BLUE FLAG:

The iconic Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised voluntary eco-labels awarded to beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators.

In order to qualify for the Blue Flag, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained.

With over 4500 sites in over 45 countries around the world, Blue Flag is actively contributing to the sustainable development goals. Blue Flag also campaigns against disparity, inequality, unemployment, health threats, depletion of natural resources, environmental threats, pollution and general environmental degradation.

In South Africa, Blue Flag has been operational since 2001 and has proud municipal, marina and tourism boat partners in 18 coastal municipalities around the country.

Blue Flag is voluntary, which shows a very strong commitment to environmental sustainability from those municipalities, marina’s and tourism boat operators that are awarded annually. All properties and companies that apply for the Blue Flag award are assessed by a South African National Jury as well as by the Blue Flag International Jury in Europe.


ABOUT GREEN COAST:

Based on the success of the Blue Flag eco-label and the recognition that Blue Flag is only applicable to a limited stretch of urban coastline, WESSA developed a second coastal award for implementation along South Africa’s coastline. The Green Coast Award, officially launched in 2017, is an annual award programme that recognises inclusive and sustainable management at less developed coastal sites with high biodiversity value.

Green Coast is a platform for collaboration, innovation, and local public participation in coastal management. Successful coastal sites achieve Green Coast status by meeting a set of criteria that are designed to ensure environmental, developmental and participatory standards are continually maintained and improved.

Where possible, Green Coast sites aim to include a resident’s association or public group who can mobilise active citizens to participate in the management of the site. The Green Coast criteria include aspects of basic ecological monitoring, encouraging citizen science initiatives that empower communities for civic action and influence localized decision making.

Coastal areas with Green Coast status appeal to a specific sector of the tourism market who are looking for experiences in adventure, outdoor living, and nature tourism along our coastline. The Green Coast award assists these sites by putting them on the tourism map and promoting them all under one national eco-label.