The Mercury, July 1, 2008, reported that deadline for applications for Durban beaches to re-qualify for Blue Flag status in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup has passed without such an application being made by the city. The deadline was at midnight on Monday but national coordinator Allison Kelly said that no application had been received. The reason for the long delay in granting Blue Flag status is because beaches must undergo a year’s Pilot Phase before the internationally accredited distinction can be bestowed.
A number of our beaches had achieved Blue Flag status but lost it after a number of problems were found including water with unacceptable levels of faecal contamination. The city’s beach problems also featured recently in one of televsion program Carte Clanche’s famous exposes. The lost status caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth and accusations that the Blue Flag organisation was applying higher standards to Durban than it does elsewhere. There seems to be the belief, by some officials, that Durban shouldn’t bother with Blue Flag but apply its own standards to its beaches. The word from the Mercury is that the hospitality industry is dead keen to go back to Blue Flag.