International Blue Flag Pilot Status for 3 Tobago Beaches
Posted Oct 12, 2020
On Monday October 12, 2020, the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited (TTAL) received Blue Flag Pilot status approval from the Blue Flag International Jury for three Tobago beaches. King’s Bay, Bloody Bay and Mt Irvine Bay got formal endorsement to fully engage in meeting the Blue Flag standards and submit applications for Blue Flag Certification as early as 2021. This makes Tobago the only island in the Lesser Antilles with Blue Flag approval to the benefit of visitors and residents alike. Blue Flag is one of the programmes implemented in Trinidad and Tobago by the NGO Green T&T.
The Blue Flag Programme, with over 4,660 Blue Flag sites in 47 counties, is the world’s most recognised voluntary eco-label with the highest brand recognition in the international tourism market regarding clean, safe, environmentally responsible beaches, marinas and sustainable boat tour operators (also known as sites). Blue Flag certification is awarded to sites for their sustainable development efforts achieved through strict criteria relating to water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, safety and other services. The Blue Flag Programme is one of five programmes of the internationally renowned Foundation for Environmental Education with partners such as the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The announcement came from Trinidad and Tobago's Blue Flag National Coordinator, Joanna Moses-Wothke who provided the details leading up to the announcement and the subsequent steps towards Blue Flag certification.
“Tobago was always poised as an ideal Blue Flag destination, with pristine beaches, an intact montane tropical rainforest and small communities sandwiched between, it was more a matter of time. Any beach that applies for Blue Flag certification must first undergo a gap analysis against the Blue Flag standards and must submit measures towards compliance. The gap analyses along with the recommendations to meet compliance were submitted first to the Blue Flag National Jury in June this year and forwarded to the International Blue Flag Jury the following month for the final pilot status approval. Once the pilot beaches are in full compliance, TTAL can submit the beach applications to the National and International Blue Flag Juries for the official Blue Flag award as early as 2021” Joanna Moses-Wothke explained.
Besides the Blue Flag requirements, the three beaches share unique ecosystems such as coral reefs and rivers with rich biodiversity. Additionally, King’s Bay and Bloody Bay are situated in the planned North East Tobago UNESCO Man-and the-Biosphere site, another credence of international significance that promotes blue and green economies and sustainable management of natural resources.
Narendra Ramgulam, Director of Product Development & Destination Management at the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited stated:
“Blue Flag is one of the world’s most reputable and recognized awards for beaches. Having been awarded pilot status for 3 beaches means that we are taking steps in the right direction to not only boost our environmental sustainability as a destination but we are in the process also leveraging and building confidence in our eco-conscious travellers.
Trends from leading tourism journals and studies indicate that travellers post COVID-19 are going to be demanding safe destinations and destinations that are perceived to be clean/green. In this regard, Blue Flag gives destination Tobago an edge over our competitors, and no other beaches in the English-Speaking Caribbean are Blue Flag certified, so we are definitely first movers in this aspect and hope to continue building on this thrust as we move forward as a destination with the image of being untouched and unspoilt.”
More information on the Blue Flag programme in Tobago can be found at http://green-tt.org/blue-flag-tt