Valencia has the most blue flags in Spain. Image: Calpe (Alicante)

Spains beaches, marinas and sustainable boating tourism has been awarded 688 blue flags – 19 more than in 2019 -confirming its leadership since 1987 in this type of classifications

 

In 2020, a year marked by the passage of the storm “Gloria” in January and the Covid-19 pandemic since March, Spain has strengthened its position as the country with the largest number of blue flags beaches and ports.

This summer, Spain will display 688 blue flags: 589 in beaches, 98 in marinas and 5 in sustainable boating operators, 19 more than last year in all three categories. If we focus only on the blue flags awarded to beaches – the most numerous category – the country has received 23 more blue flags compared to 2019.

With this data, Spain maintains its undisputed international leadership in blue flags, uninterrupted since 1987, taking a percentage of 15% of the total blue flags worldwide. It is followed in this classification by Greece (514), Turkey (508), France (507), Italy (482) and Portugal (387).

This is an international certification that analyses and rewards those beaches that meet the criteria of water quality, safety and services, environmental management and environmental information and education. It is part of the programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), the largest environmental education organisation in the world, which has members in 77 countries.

 

The Valencian region leads the way in blue flags in Spain 

 

The beach of Las Nieves, in Agaete (Gran Canaria), has obtained this year its blue flag. EFE/Quique Curbelo

 

More than 230 municipalities have blue flag beaches in our country. The Valencian region has the most beaches with this classification: 134. It is followed by Galicia (107), Andalusia (100), Catalonia (95), the Canary Islands (51), the Balearic Islands (38), Murcia (26), Asturias (13), Cantabria (11), the Basque Country (5), Melilla (4), Ceuta (2), Extremadura (2) and Madrid (1). In the case of the latter two, inland, the blue flags are held by the lakes and reservoirs of Orellana la Vieja and La Dehesa de Cheles, in Badajoz, and the Pantano de San Juan, in Madrid.

With regard to blue flag marinas, Catalonia is in first place (23), followed by Andalusia (18), Valencia (14), the Balearic Islands (13), Galicia (12), Murcia (6) and the Canary Islands (5). For its part, Asturias, the autonomous city of Melilla and Extremadura have 1 marina respectively.

Adding the three categories, the region with the largest number of blue flags is the that of Valencia (148), followed by Andalusia (120) and Galicia (119).

To the more than a hundred Spanish beaches that have been flying their blue flags for over a a decade, this year we add those of La Chapineta, in Cartagena; Lance Nuevo, in Mojacar; Las Nieves, in Agaete; El Muelle and Caleton, in Garachico; Agra, in Sanxenxo; Carril, in Vigo; Compostela, in Vilagarcía de Arousa; Arnao, in Castrillon; and Caño de la Culata, in Huelva.

 

Nature trails to link the blue flags

 

Camariñas, in A Coruña, is one of the municipalities with a blue trail. Photo: turismocamarinas.net

 

In 2020 we have also received 68 awards for our blue trails, itineraries that link, cross or leave from beaches, ports and information centres that have blue flag status. The aim is to promote the paths that connect sites with this award, promoting the heritage, cultural and  natural surroundings near beaches and marinas with a blue flag.

Currently 66 municipalities belonging to 19 provinces have received this recognition; among the latest, the municipalities of Castrillón (Asturias), Sant Llorençs des Cardassar (Balearic Islands), Cartaya (Huelva), Fox (Lugo) and Moaña (A Coruña).

Galicia, with 21, is the region with the most blue trails, followed by Valencia, with 16, Andalusia, with 8, and Catalonia, with 7.

 

Above all, safety on our beaches

 

This year health safety is going to be essential. In addition to easy and safe access, first aid and lifeguard teams, and the other quality factors that make us the leading country for blue flags, Spain will offer extra safety regulations this year to both residents and foreigners. Implementing capacity control and social distancing to safeguard visitors and as recently announced by the Secretary of State for Tourism, Isabel Oliver, a guide to limit risks of Covid-19 contagion on Spanish beaches is currently awaiting validation by the Health Ministry.

 

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