Catalan beaches awarded 86 blue flags for cleanliness, one more than last year
‘Blue flags’ recognise clean beaches, with quality services, and are awarded at international level by the Foundation for Environmental Education and the United Nations agencies for Tourism and the Environment. In Catalonia 83.42 kilometres of its beaches have been awarded a blue flag.
Barcelona (ACN).- Catalonia has increased the number of beaches awarded the top quality \u201CBlue flag\u201D. 86 beaches received the award for cleanliness and top quality services, one more than in 2010. In total, they represent 83.42 km of coastline. Percentage wise, 24% of the 356 Catalan beaches received this top quality distinction. Besides, 22 marinas (sports harbours) in Catalonia were also awarded, three more than last year. The blue flag is an ecological label for those beaches and ports which comply with 32 criteria based on water cleanliness, safety and environmental management and education. They are awarded each year by the independent and non-profit Foundation for Environmental Education, in collaboration with the United Nations Agencies for the Environment and Tourism.
Of these 86 Catalan beaches, 37 of them are in the province of Tarragona, 28 in Girona and 21 in Barcelona. Tarragona leads with the largest number of blue flags. This coastline is famous for the beaches of the Costa Daurada, with the villages and towns of Salou, Cambrils, Altafulla, Cunit, or Calafell, as well as for the River Ebre Delta, where vast beaches can be found. Girona\u2019s seashore is the Costa Brava, with villages and towns such as Tossa de Mar, Lloret de Mar, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Cadaqués, Begur, Palamós and Palafrugell, among others. Girona also has eight marinas with a blue flag, one more than Tarragona and Barcelona. The capital of Catalonia is now famous for its city beaches, six of which have received a blue flag. Besides Barcelona city, Catalonia\u2019s central coast also offers blue flags in towns such as Malgrat de Mar, Calella de Mar, Arenys de Mar, El Masnou, Badalona, Castelldefels or Vilanova i la Geltrú, among others.
The blue flag criteria
The criteria for a blue flag to be awarded are 32, and they include: free access to the beach and it being managed as a public space, displaying clear and concise information, promoting health habits, being 100% in line with environmental and coastline legislation, having quality sand, clean water, and a lifeguard service with a least two people. This last element prevents paradise beaches from small villages to be included in the prestigious list, as they lack the money to hire two lifeguards. José Sánchez Moro, the Chairman of the Foundation for Environmental education, which has its headquarters in Denmark, has pointed out that due to the crisis the costs of analysing the water as often as required by the jury is difficult for small villages.
520 blue flags for Spanish beaches
Spanish beaches have obtained 520 blue flags, leading the world\u2019s list of 36 countries with blue flags. Spain is followed by Greece, with 412 beaches. The Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) congratulated Spain on leading for another year. In addition, 84 marinas in Spain have been awarded. Galicia, which has 25% of Spanish beaches, continues leading the list this year. It is followed by the Valencian Community and then by Catalonia. The Spanish Deputy Minister for Tourism, Joan Mesquida, reminded that \u201Cthe beaches are the crown jewel\u201D of the Spanish tourist industry. He explained that 83% of the tourists visiting Spain stayed by the coast.