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As a double bonus for Wilderness Tourism, in the same week that Wilderness received Blue Flag status, the official Wild Info website went live.

The Eden District Municipality proudly announced that THREE of the beaches in its domain, Wilderness, Brenton-on-Sea and Buffalo Bay, were granted Blue Flag status at the official 2012 -13 Blue Flag Beach Launch in Hermanus on 11 October. Vernon Gibbs-Halls of Eden District Municipality, the Knysna Municipal Manager, Lauren Waring, Maretha Alant of SanParks, and Massimo Mariotti of Salinas Restaurant in Wilderness received the award on behalf of their respective Councils from the Minister of Tourism, Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk. Vernon Gibbs-Halls and Ms Waring said it was the first time that both the Eden Municipality and Knysna Municipality entered the programme and was very proud to achieve three blue flags on their first attempt.

Executive Mayor of Eden Mr Wessie van der Westhuizen said, "The provisions for this status are very strict and we are proud of the achievement and grateful towards everyone who has assisted with us towards attaining this goal."

Ms Waring thanked partners Eden District Municipality with special mention to facilitator Vernon Gibbs-Halls and WESSA for their involvement. She also commended the Knysna Blue Flag Steering Committee who was integral to the achievement, as well as Knysna Municipal staff for their hard work, and residents and visitors who contribute towards the cleanliness and beauty of the beaches. "Our beaches are an asset worth looking after."

Vernon Gibbs-Halls said that the Eden District Municipality would pursue Blue Flag status for its other beaches, adding that the biggest challenge is to ensure the blue flag status of the beaches is retained annually. He thanked Massimo Mariotti of Salinas Restaurant for their generous sponsorship of the Wilderness Blue Flag Beach, SANParks for their continued support, Jimmy Scholtz form Working for the Coast and the George Municipality for ensuring seasonal life-guards. It has been shown internationally that a blue flag immediately increases the tourism potential of the successful beaches and towns.

South Africa has participated in the Blue Flag programme since 2001. Blue Flag is an international coastal management programme that accredits beaches and boats. Beaches must meet standards of excellence in water quality, environmental management, environmental education and information as well as safety and services.

After months of hard work, litres of creative juices flowing and some pulling-hair-out-of-head -times, the official Wild Info website was launched. The site is a direct result of the combined artistic effort between Tracey Pharoah, Kristy Kolberg and Lusinda Engelke and can be viewed on www.wildinfo.co.za or www.weta.co.za . Furthermore, the Wild Info office has negotiated a link exchange deal with www.wildernesstourism.co.za ; this means that you will be able to view the Wild Info website by either typing www.wildinfo.co.za or www.weta.co.za into your browser, and soon by following the link on www.wildernesstourism.co.za.


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