The latest annual list of “Blue Flag” beaches and marinas re-confirms Alicante’s status at the head of the national Spanish ranking. The province is recognised with a total of 89 distinctions for 2021, while Valencia has the highest number of “Banderas Azules” (153) among Spain’s 17 regions.
This year Spain, which has topped the global “Blue Flag” ranking since 1994, once again leads the way, followed by France and Italy. Nationally, 713 flags were awarded in a total of 243 Spanish municipalities: 615 for beaches (up by 26 compared with 2020), 96 for marinas (two more) and two for sustainable boating tourism operators.
Valencia’s pacesetting regional total includes 137 “Blue Flag” beaches and 16 marinas; while Alicante’s municipal tally, throughout the Costa Blanca, comprises 74 beaches and 15 marinas. Alicante is one of three provinces in the Valencia region, together with Castellón, which has 33 flags, and Valencia (province), 31.
Around the world, 4,825 beaches, marinas and boating operators have been recognised by an international jury, in 47 countries on all five continents.
Recognising “pure water, clean coasts, safety and access for all”, the annually updated eco-label awards are operated internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education and in Spain by the Asociación de Educación Ambiental y del Consumidor.
To qualify for a “Blue Flag”, beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators are required to meet, and maintain, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety and accessibility criteria.
As the foundation explains, “Central to the ideals of the Blue Flag program is the aim of connecting the public with their surroundings and encouraging them to learn more about their environment. As such, environmental education activities must be offered and promoted in addition to a permanent display of information relevant to the site in terms of biodiversity, ecosystems and environmental phenomena.”
Hailing Alicante’s prominent status, specifically in reference to the capital city, deputy mayor and councillor responsible for tourism and beaches Mari Carmen Sánchez said retaining the five “Blue Flags” this year highlighted the quality of urban beach areas extending over six kilometres.
“San Juan, Albufereta, Postiguet, Urbanova and Tabarca are our jewels, recognition of a job well done, of cleanliness, safety and compliance with current regulations on health protocols. In short, our beaches are a real treasure, so what are you waiting for? Come and enjoy them.”