A total of 581 beaches in Greece were awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award for 2022, putting the country in second place among 49 countries, according to data released on Monday by the Greek section of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
The Halkidiki peninsula in northern Greece, renowned for its golden sand and turquoise waters, swept most of the awards, earning 96 blue flags for its beaches. Attica, Crete and Rhodes follow.
A map with all the locations in Greece and elsewhere awarded this year is available at www.blueflag.global.
Spain tops the list of the most Blue Flag Awards in the world.
“We are blessed as a country—our destinations are sought after worldwide,” said Deputy Minister of Tourism, Sofia Zacharaki.
She highlighted the issues of safety and environmental education on Greek beaches while she announced that the ministry has secured 140 million euros from the Recovery Fund for the construction of marinas and the improvement of accessibility to beaches.
Regarding the tourist season, Zacharaki stated that “the messages are optimistic for our country,” while she expressed the hope that “this year we will exceed our expectations.”
Stringent criteria are needed to qualify for a Blue Flag
The iconic Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognized voluntary eco-labels awarded to beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators. In order to qualify for the blue flag, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained.
Certificates, which the FEE refers to as awards, are issued on an annual basis to beaches and marinas of FEE member countries.
The Blue Flag was created in France in 1985, as a pilot scheme from the Office of the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe where French coastal municipalities were awarded the Blue Flag on the basis of criteria covering sewage treatment and bathing water quality.
1987 was the “European Year of the Environment,” and the European Commission was responsible for developing the European Community activities of that year.
The Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe (FEEE) presented the concept of the Blue Flag to the commission, and it was agreed that it would launch the Blue Flag program as one of several “European Year of the Environment” activities in the Community.