“How lovely it was to visit such a well-kept beach. Despite the fact that the beach was very busy, everything was in place and all services were keeping the beach clean and safe. What I found on Santos was exactly what an international, world-class Blue Flag beach should be and I am quite confident to say that Santos on the day I visited it, would have been rated as one of the best Blue Flag beaches in the world.”
This was said by Ms Alison Kelly, Blue Flag Manager Programme Manager for South Africa, in her report following an unannounced inspection last weekend of Mossel Bay’s two Blue Flag beaches, Santos and Hartenbos.
Santos scored 98 per cent for its ablution facilities, which is the highest mark ever given by Ms Kelly for ablution facilities in the approximately ten years that she has been doing these inspections. In an e-mail to the Municipality she also had high praise for Hartenbos, which like Santos, received a 5-star rating for its ablution facilities.
“I know that the standards of excellence that I found at Hartenbos and Santos come with great effort and attention to detail. Well done, you can be justifiably proud of your Blue Flag beaches and the fact that they reflect the international standards of excellence found on Blue flag beaches around the world. And I do believe that if we could have compared the Mossel Bay beaches to all the other Blue Flag beaches around the world, we would have found your beaches to have been there with the best in the world,” she wrote.
She wrote that despite the beaches being busy, they were in excellent condition and by far the best Blue Flag beaches she got to see as she travelled from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth to visit all the beaches in this area.
The Executive Mayor of Mossel Bay, Alderlady Marie Ferreira, said she was extremely proud of this achievement and also thanked the ATKV for supporting the Municipality with the management of the Hartenbos beach.
“The municipal as well as ATKV officials involved in managing the two beaches are dedicated people who take pride in their work, and this is reflected in no uncertain way in the results that have been achieved.
“The Blue Flag organisation carries out two inspections when the beaches are operated as Blue Flag beaches, and one of the inspections is unannounced. To have achieved such good results when the beaches were at their busiest and not knowing that an inspection was being carried out is an achievement of which our staff can be justifiably proud,” said the Mayor.
The Santos and Hartenbos beaches received Blue Flag status for the first time in 2009 and also received praise for their compliance with the strict international Blue Flag standards in their first season. Although Blue Flag status is awarded for a year at a time the Municipality decided to operate the beaches as Blue Flag beaches over the annual year-end holiday season because of the cost and logistics involved in operating a Blue Flag beach.
Both Santos and Hartenbos will be operated as Blue Flag beaches until the end of January 2011. The Municipality is also investigating the possibility of applying for Blue Flag status for the Diaz and De Bakke beaches in future.
Blue Flag status is an international standard which is awarded for beaches that meet stringent standards in respect of safety, facilities, neatness and environmental standards. To qualify, a beach must comply with 29 criteria which are laid down by the international Blue Flag organisation. Water quality is one of the most important criteria.
In 2001, South Africa became the first country outside Europe to implement the Blue Flag programme for its beaches. Blue Flag status was awarded to 27 beaches in South Africa in 2010. The programme is followed in forty countries and there are approximately 4 000 beaches with Blue Flag status around the world.
The Executive Mayor, Alderlady Marie Ferreira (left), and from left to right, Councillor Eleanor Domingo (Chairperson of the Corporate Services Committee of Council), the Municipal Manager, Dr Michele Gratz, and Mr Colin Puren, Director of Community Services of the Municipality, with the Blue Flag at Santos Beach.