Hamburg beach in Amathole, as well as Kariega and Kelly’s beaches in Ndlambe, have been granted full Blue Flag status by the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (Wessa), which oversees the Blue Flag programme in the country.
The status was conferred on four other beaches in the Eastern Cape, namely Dolphin in Kouga, and King’s, Humewood and Hobie beaches in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Wessa also gave Ndlambe’s Royal Alfred Marina Blue Flag status.
It is awarded for the Blue Flag season, which starts on December 1 and lasts until the end of the summer season.
The status can be revoked any time if standards are not kept up, according to Wessa group marketing and communications manager Sarah Alcock.
In total 58 Blue Flags will fly at 48 beaches and six marinas and on four sustainable tourism boats around SA over the summer season.
The Blue Flag programme also allows for new sites to take part in a pilot programme in an effort to reach full Blue Flag status in future.
Alcock said that in 2001 SA was the first country outside Europe to join the Foundation for Environmental Education (Fee) on the Blue Flag programme.
Since then, others have followed the country’s example and joined, giving it international recognition.
Attending the launch in Durban at the weekend, eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda committed eThekwini to improving its beaches and increasing the number of Blue Flags in the area to encourage both domestic and international tourism.
Alcock said her organisation was committed to working with local municipalities and tourism operators to grow the Blue Flag programme in SA.