Tobago received Blue Flag pilot status approval from the Blue Flag International Jury for three of its beaches: King’s Bay, Bloody Bay and Mt Irvine Bay.
Blue Flag is one of the world’s most reputable and recognised awards for beaches. There are over 4,660 Blue Flag sites in 47 countries.
The 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.
Narendra Ramgulam, director of product development and destination management at the Tobago Tourism Agency (TTAL), said, “Having been awarded pilot status for three 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."
Ramgulam added, "Trends from leading tourism journals and studies indicate that travellers post-covid19 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.”
A release from TTAL on Thursday said, "The Blue Flag Programme is one of five programmes of the internationally renowned Foundation for Environmental Education with partners such as the UN Environment Programme, the UN World Tourism Organisation and the UNEducational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)."
TT's Blue Flag national co-ordinator Joanna Moses-Wothke said the latest development was inevitable.
“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," she said.
Moses-Wothke said the wheels were put in motion four months ago.
"The gap analysis, 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 andinternational Blue Flag juries for the official Blue Flag award."