ANTALYA, Turkey (AA) – The southern Antalya province of Turkey, often regarded as one of the top tourism destinations in the world, has retained its ranking with the most blue-flagged eco-friendly beaches in the world, with a total of 213.
According to the latest figures by the International Blue Flag jury, a total of 519 beaches in Turkey will fly Blue Flags this year. The country is ranked third in the world after Spain’s 614 blue-flag beaches and Greece’s 545.
Antalya remained the top recipient of the award on a city basis, increasing its total from the 202 last year.
It was followed by the southwestern Mugla province with 106 blue-flag beaches, western Izmir with 66, southwestern Aydin with 39 and northwestern Balikesir with 36.
The Blue Flag certification, an international program implemented in 47 countries, is an exclusive international eco-label given to beaches and marinas after meeting certain criteria set by the International Foundation for Environmental Education, an independent non-profit organization.
– ‘Additional rules introduced amid outbreak’
Mustafa Ergiydiren, the Antalya Blue Flag Coordinator for the Foundation for Environmental Education in Turkey (TURCEV), told Anadolu Agency that the country’s global ranking was a great success, especially for Antalya.
Ergiydiren said the city’s considerable infrastructure facilities, as well as the quality of its beaches and businesses played an “important role in Antalya being first in the world.”
Underlining that precautions against the novel coronavirus were being meticulously implemented on Antalya’s beaches, he said: “We’ve set additional criteria such as distance between sunbeds, provision of sanitizer materials at the entrances of beaches, and the cleaning of showers and toilets at least once every half hour.”
He emphasized that the Blue Flag was the most well-known national and international environmental award, adding that locals and tourists were conscious of award-winning beaches and attached importance to them.
Ergiydiren said beaches must meet 33 criteria to fly a Blue Flag, stressing that environmental management and information, beach cleanliness and safety were a must for award-winning beaches.
“After we deliver the award, we don’t let it go. We carry out surprise inspections. Inspectors from international organizations also come. They conduct separate inspections.
“If there are missing points in the criteria, we temporarily lower the Blue Flag. If the criteria isn’t met in the given time, we cancel the award during the season, and announce this on our website,” said Ergiydiren.
– Konyaalti Coast 10 blue flags
Ergiydiren said Blue Flags had also started to rise along Turkey’s Black Sea coast as well.
The award requires outstanding infrastructure investments, with good water analysis results over the past four years and all criteria met, he underlined.
Blue Flag public beaches are growing rapidly with the efforts of local governments, Ergiydiren said, adding that the world-famous Antalya’s Konyaalti Coast having ten beaches with Blue Flags.
Source: Anadolu Agency