41 South Africa beaches awarded Blue Flags
The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) marked National Marine Week yesterday by celebrating the national launch of this year’s Blue Flag Programme at Ramsgate Beach in KZN, hosted by the Hibiscus Coast Municipality. Blue Flag is the prestigious, voluntary eco-label for beaches, marinas and boats that is recognised as a trusted symbol of quality and regarded by the World Tourism Organisation as the most well-known eco-label globally.
The 2013 International Blue Flag Jury results announced at the launch event revealed that a total of 41 beaches have been awarded Blue Flag status in South Africa this year, along with five marinas, two whale-watching boats, one commercial boat and one private boat. Five of the 41 beaches have provisional Blue Flag status pending a final assessment by 01 December. Furthermore, seven additional beaches have been given Pilot Blue Flag Site status. Internationally, 3,849 beaches and marinas have been awarded Blue Flag status for the 2013/14 season.
The Blue Flag Programme has been running internationally for 27 years this year and has been implemented in South Africa through WESSA since 2001. The programme is designed to raise environmental awareness and increase sound environmental practices among tourists, local populations and beach management. To achieve Blue Flag status, 33 main criteria spanning over four aspects of coastal management have to be met: water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management and safety and services.
WESSA’s Blue Flag Programme has grown significantly over the past two and a half years, with a 50% growth in the number of Blue Flag Sites over the past two years. The programme is now, more than ever before, in line with the International Blue Flag trend with an increasing focus on environmental education and the conservation of biodiversity. This is reflected in the fact that Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) are now represented within the International Standards of the Programme, and South Africa has as many as 25 Blue Flag Sites that are in or near MPA’s.
Speaking at the launch event the Minister of Tourism, Martinus van Schalkwyk, gave his full support - and that of the government - for the Blue Flag Programme saying that government believes in the programme and in the partnership that the programme is all about. He spoke about the importance of the interface between government and NGOs as the lifeblood that helps the country move forward, and spoke about the constructive relationship he has always enjoyed with WESSA. The minister made reference to a big debate throughout the world regarding values and the environment and said he believed that Blue Flag’s success has been the understanding that in order to protect what is worth protecting we need to realise the economic potential of environmental protection. He commended the Programme for having substance, a proper framework and much detail, saying that Blue Flag status is not achieved easily. He concluded by congratulating and thanking everyone involved with the programme, adding that it will help convince tourists to come to the local areas where Blue Flag sites are, bringing money, job opportunities and infrastructure to the respective local municipalities.
The Blue Flag Programme’s recent surge in growth in South Africa is partly due to the arrival of Blue Flag Marinas, but also due to major commitment from local government which has resulted in new municipalities joining the Programme, and existing municipalities increasing their number of Blue Flag sites.
While WESSA is pleased with this year’s International Jury Results the organisation believes the Programme needs to grow even further to include more coastal municipalities and marinas country-wide. The organisation sees much potential for growth through the Pilot Programme, which acts as an incubation period for potential sites where the site is interested in and committed to the programme but not yet ready to become a Full Status Site. WESSA also encourages the support of the relevant provincial authorities to perpetuate the success of the programme.
Says Ted Knott, WESSA’s National Coastal Programme Manager: “If we can succeed in having all of our coastal municipalities involved in the Blue Flag Programme and simultaneously ensure that the International Standards of the programme are maintained, then we can rest assured that our coast is being effectively managed; and marine and coastal biodiversity is being conserved.”
Surfers teach autistic kids how to catch waves
South Carolina surfers treat autistic children to a day on the beach and teach them how to catch a wave. WCBD’s Haley Hernandez reports. [x]
You won’t find hordes of tourists at these eight secluded beaches from around the world—just unspoiled sand and surf.
New York City is getting a new beach!
"The area — 11,000 square feet at low tide — will feature sand, terraced seating, a kayak launch, a spot for fishing, tree-lined walkways and concession stands, all just minutes from Wall Street in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge."
via NYC to build Brooklyn Bridge Beach along East River
Tel Aviv opens its first public library with a sea-view
Imagine going to the beach, finding just the right spot, sitting down on the warm sand, and just then, you realize that you forgot your book! Well, if you’re in Tel Aviv that is no longer a problem. The city now offers a portable beach library that will be available to the public for free throughout the summer.
The library, located at the famous “Metzitzim Beach,” offers 500 titles, from novels to poetry and children’s books. And the library is catering not only to Israelis, it also carries books in English, French, Russian and Arabic. The library will be open each day from 7:30am to 7:30pm.
“Tel Aviv operates 22 public libraries which lend over 400,000 books annually and we’re happy to open another one for the summer months,” said Mayor Ron Huldai upon launch. “There’s high demand for book-lending services in the city and now one can enjoy a good book also at the beach. [x]
Photo: Ben Raul Maizel
Corgi Spring Beach Day draws over 140 corgis to Huntington Beach Dog Park
Listen up, everyone. We’ve found the happiest place on earth. And it’s where 100+ corgis convene on the seaside for playtime.
The masterminds behind this glorious event are a handful of corgi-loving Facebook friends who call themselves “Corgi Nation.” Last October, they came up with the best. idea. ever: Corgi Beach Day.
Following the pilot event’s success last fall, “Corgi Nation” members organized a second beach day in February as well as a spring event this month. The latest romp at the Huntington Beach Dog Park took place last Saturday.
More than 70 members attended and, according to BuzzFeed, more than 140 corgis.
According to the event’s Facebook page, the next meetup will be in July. So use the next two months to find yourself a corgi friend, and get ready to have the best day of your life.
Cape Town awarded Blue Flag status for 8 beaches and 2 marinas
The National Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, confirmed that eight of the City of Cape Town’s beaches and two of its marinas have been awarded Blue Flag Status. He was speaking at the National Blue Flag launch event at Grotto Beach in Hermanus on 11 October 2012.
The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded annually to over 3,650 beaches and marinas in 44 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean. The City has successfully participated in the Blue Flag Beach Programme since its inception in South Africa in 2001.
Having Blue Flag beaches and marinas is a significant tourism drawcard because international visitors know what to expect when visiting a Blue Flag beach or marina. The programme challenges local authorities, beach operators and yacht and marina management to achieve high standards in environmental management, environmental education, safety and security and water quality.
This year the City applied for Blue Flag status for eight of its beaches across the metropole – all of which have been granted this coveted status. This means that the City has the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in South Africa. The beaches that have been awarded Blue Flag status for this season, which runs from 1 December 2012 to 31 March 2013 are Bikini, Mnandi, Strandfontein, Muizenberg, Llandudno, Camps Bay, Clifton 4th and Silwerstroomstrand.
Blue Flag beaches are required to meet 32 criteria spanning four aspects of coastal management: water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management and safety and services. The status indicates that the beaches are clean, have adequate ablution facilities and parking, are environmentally sound, are safe and secure to visit, and adhere to international safety and tourism standards. The accreditation is awarded for one season at a time, and if conditions deteriorate at the beach, it can be withdrawn.
Not all beaches in Cape Town have Blue Flag status – but this is not a negative reflection on the beach. The Blue Flag serves merely as a yard stick to assist the City in improving and enhancing services and facilities on all public beaches.
Two of the City of Cape Town’s marinas, Granger Bay Water Club and the False Bay Yacht Club, received full Blue Flag status, together with YachportSA in Saldanha Bay and the Royal Alfred Marina in Ndlambe.
The City aspires to maintain the highest recognised international environmental standards. Given this, when the City learnt that marinas were able to achieve Blue Flag status in addition to beaches, it approached 15 yacht clubs and marinas in Cape Town to determine if it was possible to register local marinas for this prestigious award.
After almost two years of work, Cape Town is proud to announce that it is the first African city south of the Mediterranean to have its marinas achieve Blue Flag accreditation. The Royal Cape Yacht Club will continue with pilot status and apply for full status in 2013.
"The Blue Flag Programme provides a quality holiday experience for local and international tourists visiting South Africa, and Cape Town in particular. It is also about enabling local communities to enjoy a better quality of life through increased socio-economic benefits and improved natural resource management. The Blue Flag brand adds value to Cape Town’s Responsible Tourism offerings and supports the implementation of the City’s Responsible Tourism Policy. One of the key elements of Responsible Tourism is the development, management and marketing of tourism in ways that create competitive advantages, and the Blue Flag Programme for marinas could only benefit and help to sell Cape Town as a world-class destination," said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Alderman Belinda Walker.
California’s Coronado named nation’s best beach
Like a Hollywood star, Coronado’s 1.5 mile-long beach literally sparkles, thanks to the mineral mica glinting in its sand.
That’s one of the reasons why Coronado — flanked by the iconic hotel featured in Marilyn Monroe’s 1958 film “Some Like It Hot” — has been named the No. 1 beach in the United States in the 2012 survey by “Dr. Beach” professor Stephen P. Leatherman of Florida International University.
It is the first time “Dr. Beach” has given the top slot to California in the more than two decades that he has been ranking beaches in the United States based on their environmental quality and safety for swimmers.
(click-through for full story)
In Latvia, 16 artists used 500 tons of sand to create beautiful sand sculptures around a circus theme. This is the fifth year that the festival has taken place, and visitors have come from as far as the United States to attend. Check out the sculptures and learn more by watching the video below.