Greece comes again in second in the international "Blue Flag" programme, which includes 47 countries. In particular, 519 Greek beaches, 15 marinas and 1 sustainable tourism boat were awarded with the “Blue Flag”, which is the most world-renowned eco-label around the globe. This means that the Greek beaches are not only beautiful but also have the most high water quality standards in the world, which has contribute to country’s showcase into one of the best travel destinations worldwide.
As announced by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, which is the national operator of the "Blue Flag" programme, the International Organization awarded this year 3,687 beaches, 679 marinas and 55 sustainable tourism boats around the world. Greece won 12% of the total awards and 14% of the awarded coasts. The Regional Unit of Chalcidice was featured as the first Greek area with 89 flags. As for the world ranking, Spain gain the first place in the field of coasts, while Turkey, France and Italy respectively occupied the 3rd, 4th and 5th places. In the ranking for all coasts, marinas and boats, France ranked 3rd, after Spain and Greece, with Turkey and Italy following.
"Greece comes in second - amongst 47 countries - in the international "Blue Flag" programme, which rewarded 519 Greek coasts, 15 marinas and a sustainable tourism boat
The Blue Flag programme
The eco - label “Blue Flag” is awarded since 1987 and the imperative requirement for awarding a coast is to have "excellent" water quality. No other quality grading, even "good", is acceptable from the programme. The award has one year duration.
In addition to this imperative compliance, all candidate coastal areas have to fulfill all of the rest 33 criteria in order to evaluating the following: water quality, organization, information, safety of bathers and visitors, protection both for beaches’ natural wealth and the coastal areas, environmental sensitization. The most - known international travel agencies pay special attention to the "Blue Flag" when choosing the destinations they propose to their customers. Its possession is now a guarantee of the high quality of the services offered on the coast, as well as care taken there for environmental protection. This is something that all coastal coordinators, municipalities, hotels and campsites which participate in the program voluntarily, know and make a good use of it.
"The most - known international travel agencies abroad pay special attention to the "Blue Flag" when they propose destinations, assessing that high quality services and also care for environment’s protection are offered in awarded coasts
For marinas, the criteria are 38, while those for boats are 51. The implementation of the "Blue Flag" programme for Sustainable Tourism Boats has begun in our country in 2017. The programme concerns companies that run tourist boats and are rewarded for their sustainable management when they fulfill the 51 criteria of the general categories, as well as additional criteria when it comes to special categories such as diving boats.
The Foundation for Environmental Education is the founder and the International Coordinator of the “Blue Flag” programme. The foundation lies on Denmark; it has 73 countries from all continents as members and in Greece is represented by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (HSPN). It is the oldest national environmental organization of the country with constant action to protect the natural environment since its establishment in 1951: environmental interventions, nature protection programs, environmental education with 5 networks approved by the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, initiatives to inform and awareness to the public.
In Greece, the “Blue Flag” was supported by the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MEEN) and by Ministry of Tourism. Recognizing that the programme contributes to improve the quality of coastal areas and marinas services and promotes the country's environmental image, the MEEN also participates in the programme's National Crisis Committee (NCC). The Ministry of Tourism, since 2013, has signed a cooperation protocol with the HSPN, formally sealed the deal of common goals in the effort to improve the quality of the tourist product in Greece. This cooperation also concerns the Green Key, which is an international eco-label for tourist accommodations (hotels, restaurants, leisure facilities). The HSPN is also the national administrator of this programme in Greece. We should also add that the "Blue Flag" programme is supported by the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece, which encourages the regional and local authorities in observance the implementation of the criteria, while it is also represented by NCC.
Πληροφορίες: Ελληνική Εταιρεία Προστασίας της Φύσης. https://eepf.gr/el
Δικτυακός τόπος προγράμματος «Γαλάζια Σημαία» στην Ελλάδα: https://eepf.gr/el/blueflag
Dareia-Nefeli Vourdoumpa is the project coordinator and the programme's website, for further details, is www.eepf.gr/blueflag. There you can find out: who are the awarded beaches, marinas and the boat, how and from who are checked those who have applied for a "Blue Flag", how strict the controls are and who is the awarding process.