The Garden Routers, more specifically residents of the George municipal area, can be proud of their beach in Wilderness after the beach was awarded a certificate as “Pilot Blue Flag Beach” for this year 2018/2019. Executive Mayor of George, Cllr Melvin Naik, proudly hoisted the Wilderness Pilot Blue Flag on 3 December 2018, during an official ceremony in celebration of this prestigious symbol of quality.
“Blue Flag’ recognition is regarded by the World Tourism Organisation as the most well-known international eco-label and gives local and foreign visitors the assurance that beaches are clean, environmentally sound and adhere to international safety, as well as other tourism standards. The voluntary eco-label is given to beaches that meet strict criteria, spanning four aspects of coastal management:
- water quality;
- environmental education and information;
- environmental management; and
- safety and services.
Furthermore it includes excellent life-saving standards, top-rate parking, facilities for the disabled as well as sparkling ablution facilities. A “Blue Flag” status will ensure that the Wilderness beach achieves effective coastal management and improved service delivery through tourism-generated job creation, education and development opportunities.
In his keynote address Portfolio Chairperson for Community Services at Garden Route District Municipality, Cllr Khayalethu Lose, said: “One of the ways in which we are working hard to improve the overall quality of our beaches, is by achieving the standards required for the “Blue Flag” eco-label. Striving to achieve this status will also provides us with an added incentive for the safeguarding of the environment of our beaches and for the safety of all those who make use of them.” Cllr Lose continued by saying that he is confident that the beach can achieve the full Blue Flag status, however, “all relevant organisations and officials must work together to make a success of it. This would require commitment to the environmental sustainability and to further raise the quality of services at the Wilderness beach”.
Mr Clive Africa, Executive Manager for Community Services at GRDM, extended a word of appreciation to all stakeholders who contributed to this achievement and that he looks forward to the continued support from all parties to ensure that the next level as full “Blue Flag” status for the beach, is accomplished.
Wilderness beach was awarded the full “Blue Flag” status during the 2016/17 season, and with the commitment and true dedication of all the stakeholders, including the Garden Route District Municipality, George Municipality, the South African National Parks (SANParks), the Salinas Restaurant, and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), as well as members of the community and visiting tourists, it is possible for the beach to again achieve full “Blue Flag” status for the coming season.
What does a Pilot Blue Flag Beach certification mean?
A pilot Blue Flag beach status is proof to the World Tourism Organisation that the beach is striving towards the highest quality of service, and if achieved, the beach will be awarded full “Blue Flag” status for the next 2019/20 season. Some of the strict standards to comply with is the water quality of the swimming area, which is monitored by the Garden Route District Municipality’s environmental health practitioners. All the authorities and stakeholders are committed to stand together to ensure that the strict Blue Flag standards are achieved in order to once again have a full “Blue Flag” status beach next year.