On Monday 1 December the new 2020 season started after Grotto, Hawston, Kleinmond and Castle Beach were awarded the right to hoist the prestigious Blue Flag for the summer. Further recognition was given to Onrus Beach which received Pilot Blue Flag status for the second year.
The Blue Flag season will run from 1 December to 17 January 2021 for Hawston, Kleinmond and Castle Beach, while Grotto’s season will extend until 31 March 2021.
Lifeguards will be on duty daily from 09:00 until 18:00 for the duration of the Blue Flag season. Swim only where there are lifeguards on duty and where signs indicate that it’s safe. Beach wheelchairs are available for use at Grotto and Kleinmond during the Blue Flag season while lifeguards are on duty.
At the flag ceremony Overstrand Executive Mayor Dudley Coetzee thanked everyone for their different roles in ensuring that the quality and cleanliness of these beaches have been consistently maintained.
Grotto beach celebrates a remarkable 20 consecutive years on the programme – one of only two beaches in South Africa – whilst Hawston and Kleinmond Beaches have both enjoyed Blue Flag status for 15 years. Castle Beach will be flying its flag for the second successive year.
Special recognition was given to environmental specialist, Leon Steyn, who worked in the Environmental Department for many years and retired five years ago. “It was he who drove the Blue Flag beach programme from the start,” Mayor Coetzee said and added that it was a great privilege to have him present at the raising of the Blue Flag ceremony.
Mayor Coetzee said it was going to be a long and difficult season and reminded residents and visitors alike to continue following the Covid-19 protocols by washing hands regularly, maintaining social distancing and wearing masks when interacting with other people – especially when it is difficult to maintain physical distance.
The Blue Flag programme offers many benefits: improved tourism facilities, enhanced management of coastal ecosystems, increased awareness of the coast and capacity building of coastal municipalities. Much time has been invested in preparing facilities to receive visitors for the season.
Mayor Coetzee pointed out that it is expensive to operate a Blue Flag beach, “but Overstrand makes this investment because we care about our residents and visitors and want to provide them with facilities of the highest quality”.
He thanked Overstrand horticulturist and Blue Flag coordinator, Lauren Rainbird, for her enthusiasm and dedication, and also the cleaning staff for their diligence and commitment in keeping the ablution blocks clean and tidy at all times. He further urged the community and ward committee members to contact the Area Manager’s office if they find anything out of place.
“We must all work together to retain our status at all our Blue Flag Beaches and hopefully add Onrus beach next year,” he said.
The Mayor concluded by saying that reservists will be deployed as law enforcement officers on the beaches during the holiday season. “You have undergone the necessary training, and I believe you are competent and equipped for this challenging task. “Remember, our Blue Flag beaches are our pride. Let’s make sure it stays that way.”
About the Blue Flag
Overstrand Municipality is working closely with WESSA (Wildlife Environmental Society of South Africa), the implementing partner of the Department of Tourism for the Blue Flag programme to improve the beaches and coastline. To achieve this status, as many as 33 criteria, spanning over four areas of coastal management, must be maintained. The four areas are water quality, environmental education information, environmental management and safety services.