South Africa has 27 beaches with Blue Flag status

Four new beaches in South Africa have been awarded Blue Flag status for 2011-12.

It means travellers on holidays to South Africa now have 27 sandy spots to choose from throughout the country that carry the worldwide standard.

Some 17 of these can be found in the Western Cape, six are in KwaZulu-Natal and the other four are located in the Eastern Cape.

In order to get the accolade, a beach must show excellence in terms of safety and cleanliness, as well as demonstrate certain environmental standards.

Joyce Mabudafhasi, deputy minister of environmental affairs, stated: "Municipalities with Blue Flag beaches enjoy the benefits of drawing tourists and this boosts their economy."

South Africa also has four Blue Flag pilot marinas and a Blue Flag pilot whale watching boat.

At present, there are 44 countries and over 3,650 beaches that are recognised by the Blue Flag programme, which is owned and run by the Foundation for Environmental Education.