WHEN soccer fans descend on the city of Durban for the World Cup in 56 days time, the city's beaches will not have Blue Flag status.
That's according to Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa's Blue Flag programme manager Alison Kelly.
She was responding to the statement made by MEC for economic development and tourism Mike Mabuyakhulu that all KwaZulu-Natal beaches must have Blue Flag status.
Mabuyakhulu made the statement when tabling his department's R1,6billion budget this week.
Kelly said the announcement by Mabuyakhulu "came completely out of the blue and was very good news".
Blue Flag status is an international eco-stamp of approval for pristine beaches.
Two years ago city manager Mike Sutcliffe pulled Durban out of the accreditation process after tests revealed high levels of faeces in the water of some beaches.
Kelly said Durban will only be eligible for accreditation in November 2011.
Mabuyakhulu said the provincial beaches must meet best practice tourist standards.
"It is important to ensure that our beaches are kept in a condition where they are globally competitive because they provide us with a competitive advantage," he said.
He said his department was currently developing a provincial policy on Blue Flag Programme that will be thoroughly consulted on with various stakeholders before it is submitted to the provincial cabinet for approval.