Greece has ranked second in the world among 49 countries on the 2021 Blue Flag quality award list for beaches, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (EEPF) announced on Tuesday.
The iconic Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised voluntary eco-labels, awarded to beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators.
Greece came second with 545 of its beaches receiving the Blue Flag label, which corresponds to 13.5 percent of the total number of beaches awarded by the program this year.
The release of the Blue Flag list coincides with the recent reopening of organized beaches in Greece after months of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
The country also saw 16 of its marinas and six sustainable tourism boats honored with the Blue Flag label for 2021.
Halkidiki in northern Greece was once again the country’s Blue Flag champion as the destination boasts a total of 96 beaches with the prestigious eco-label.
The Blue Flag program is operated under the auspices of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. In Greece, the program’s coordinator is the EEPF.
“The Blue Flags will once again will wave on Greek coasts, confirming the excellent water quality and the high level of services offered to bathers, and ensuring the protection of public health with the criteria of cleanliness and hygiene,” the EEPF said.
On a worldwide scale the foundation awarded the international eco-label (blue flags) to 4,040 beaches, 707 marinas and 78 sustainable tourism boats for 2021.
In order to qualify for the Blue Flag, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained.
The EEPF highlighted the special importance of this year’s record number of Blue Flags for Greece as it coincides with the 70 years since the founding of the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, the oldest non-governmental organization for the protection of the natural environment in the country.