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The impact of Blue Flag status on tourist decision-making when selecting a beach
Van der Merwe, P.
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The Blue Flag programme holds many benefits when looking from a conservation point of view, such as preserving the natural environment. But what are the benefits when looking from a tourism perspective? In the literature it is stated that a beach’s Blue Flag status has little to no impact on the decision making of visitors when selecting a beach at which to spend their holiday. The aim of this article is to determine the impact of Blue Flag status on visitors’ decision-making when selecting a beach. Probability sampling was used with systematic sampling methods. A survey was conducted from between March and April, 2013 at six beaches across the Margate area. A total of 572 usable questionnaires were collected. The results showed whether or not a beach has Blue Flag status has little influence on the decision-making of beach visitors as little difference was found between the decision-making aspects of Blue Flag and non-Blue Flag beach visitors. It was noted that aspects of importance for decision-making for both groups of visitors form mostly part of the criteria set by the Blue Flag programme. This article makes three main contributions to the current literature; firstly, new information was identified regarding the role of the Blue Flag programme and what visitors are looking for when selecting a beach. Secondly, important aspects considered by visitors selecting a beach, such as cleanliness, landscape and popularity are identified. Lastly, this was the first time such research was conducted within a South African setting.