What is a Blue Flag Beach? What are the Characteristics of Blue Flag Beaches?

What is a Blue Flag Beach? What are the Characteristics of Blue Flag Beaches?

What is a Blue Flag?

The Blue Flag, which is one of the concepts we often hear in the summer months, is one of the issues that especially those who want to have a sea vacation are curious about. Blue Flag is a concept that shows that beaches, yachts and marinas meet some important criteria. This expression, which is extremely important for sustainable tourism, is also known as an award. This practice, which first started in France in 1985, continues in our country. Beaches that meet certain conditions are entitled to receive the Blue Flag title. Many criteria ranging from the quality of the bathing water to the informative signs in the environment, from life safety measures to cleanliness are taken as criteria for the beaches to be qualified as Blue Flag beaches. So, what are Blue Flag beaches and what are their features, let's take a look together!

What is a Blue Flag Beach?

When planning a vacation that includes sun, sand and sea, it is quite likely that you will encounter the phrase blue flag beach. This expression, which is important for many facilities and regions, is among the preference criteria of holiday lovers. At this point, those who are interested in the subject wonder the answer to the question "What is a Blue Flag beach?". In the shortest definition, a Blue Flag beach indicates a clean and safe environment. In order to win this award, it is necessary to fulfill the criteria specified by the Foundation for Environmental Education (International Foundation for Environmental Education). The conditions are specifically listed under the headings of environmental management, life safety, bathing water quality, corporate social responsibility and environmental education. Blue flag beaches, which are very important in terms of tourism, also contribute to ensuring a sustainable natural balance for a healthy life. Especially the hidden natural beaches in Turkey are characterized as natural wonders because they meet these criteria. 

What are the Blue Flag Criteria for Beaches?

The growing awareness of nature conservation around the world has made the Blue Flag Award more and more important. This award significantly supports sustainable development as it is given to fresh water, sea, marinas and yachts. These criteria, prepared within a special program, cover national and international standards. Beaches wishing to receive the Blue Flag Award are expected to fully meet a total of 33 criteria. While some of the criteria are mandatory, others are guidelines. The award is given for 1 year to the beaches that succeed in meeting the conditions. The beaches that maintain the criteria as a result of the examinations carried out every year are deemed worthy of the award again. After these general explanations, we can move on to what the Blue Flag criteria are.

Environmental Education and Awareness Activities

Environmental education and awareness-raising activities are among the criteria to be met within the scope of the Blue Flag Project. This condition includes the correct provision of information about the beach and the project. The Blue Flag Program and the eco-label awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education must be visibly displayed on the board on the beach. In addition, at least 5 environmental awareness-raising events in different categories are expected to be organized during the season in which the award is valid. Another element is the presence of information on the board showing the quality of bathing water. At the same time, information such as the ecosystem, natural and sensitive features of the coastal areas in the region where the beach is located must be provided within the scope of the awareness raising condition. Apart from these, the equipment on the beach, the facilities of the region, and the rules of behavior should also be displayed on the board.

Life Safety and Services

Among the Blue Flag criteria, life safety and services are considered the most important criteria. The fulfillment of this condition indicates that the people visiting the beach have life safety. Therefore, it draws attention as a necessity to have a lifeguard on the beach and all the intervention materials necessary for emergencies. First aid supplies, drinking water, toilet, access ramp for the disabled are among the materials that must be available in this context. Finally, we should add that an emergency plan should be prepared by authorized persons against possible accidents and risks.

Water Quality

Water quality, which is among the Blue Flag criteria, is extremely important for sustainable living. It is vital for human, environmental and animal health that beaches comply with this condition. In order to meet this condition, water samples are taken first. The standards set for the sampling method and process must be followed. Analyzes reveal water cleanliness to a significant extent. In order to meet the standards, it is a prerequisite that industrial and sewage wastes do not affect the beach. In addition, it is very important that Fecal Coliform (E.Coli) and Fecal Streptococcus/Interococcus (FS/IE) values in the water are within certain ranges. At the same time, bathing water that meets physical and chemical parameters is also considered an important indicator of quality.

Environmental Management

Beaches wishing to win a Blue Flag Award must meet certain criteria for environmental management. Within the scope of this criterion, first of all, special units are established in the region where the beach is located to carry out environmental inspections and controls. In addition, the beach must comply with national laws in terms of operation and land use. Apart from this, there are also criteria to be considered in terms of cleanliness. One of the important details is to have a trash can and container. In addition, seaweed and natural plant remains on the beach should be protected if they do not cause a bad appearance. Shower and toilet facilities are important in terms of ensuring sanitary conditions. Other criteria are listed as follows:

Unauthorized use of vehicles on the beach as well as camping and waste dumping should be prevented.
The entry and exit of dogs and other domestic animals to and from the beach area should be controlled.
A monitoring program should be implemented in sensitive marine and freshwater areas to protect the natural texture.
Finally, public transportation and cycling should be encouraged for sustainable tourism areas. Thus, while protecting the beaches, it is also possible to contribute to nature.

Corporate Social Responsibility

To win the Blue Flag Award, beaches must fulfill certain social responsibility duties. At this point; human rights, the way the beach is managed, ensuring equality in labor supply and anti-corruption come to the fore. These policies, determined by Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), are declared by the beach management. This element, which clearly expresses the management approach of the business, is based on protecting the social rights of both the staff and the people who come to the beach. 

Where are the Blue Flag Beaches in Turkey?

Blue Flag beaches are awarded each year to areas that meet the criteria correctly. Therefore, the number of these beaches and the city where they are located change regularly. Regions that continue to meet the criteria become Blue Flag holders again. According to current data, a total of 519 beaches in Turkey meet these criteria. In addition, 22 marinas, 6 individual yachts and 10 tourism boats have also received the award. It is not surprising that Antalya has the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in Turkey. With 213 different beaches, Antalya is a favorite holiday destination for both local and foreign tourists. For a great vacation in Antalya, you can take a look at the content named Kaş Travel Guide. After Antalya, Muğla also makes a name for itself with its Blue Flag beaches. Especially Fethiye and Marmaris are famous for their beaches that meet these conditions. It is possible to contribute to sustainable tourism by choosing Blue Flag beaches in these towns that fascinate those who see them. By preparing a small list of places to visit in Fethiye, you can have the chance to visit the points suitable for you with pleasure. It is also possible to create a perfect vacation route by doing research for places to visit in Marmaris.

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