In total 240 Portuguese beaches have been awarded the quality-affirming ‘Blue Flag’, more than half of all Portugal’s officially classified beaches and 14 more than last year. To achieve the annual European status symbol the beaches must comply with the highest health and hygiene regulations, being evaluated on a number of categories, including facilities, information available to beachgoers, and cleanliness. José Archer President of the European Blue Flag Association (ABAE) said: “This year we have a record number of 240 beaches [being granted the award in Portugal], 14 more than last year, which is very significant”.
In his opinion, this recorded-number of prized beaches is a reflection of the concern shown by all Portuguese in preserving their coastline.
“There is concern shown by all entities in the investment they make and in the infrastructures they place on beaches, by concessionaries and the way they manage the beaches, and by people in the way they use the beaches”, he stressed.
Being awarded a Blue Flag is also a “programme of environmental education”, Mr. Archer highlighted, adding that “after 20 years the most adequate behaviour [in preserving beaches] is intricately in each and every person”.
Despite claiming that improvements are still possible, José Archer said that the number of beaches that were awarded this year is “very satisfactory”.
“More than 50 percent of Portugal’s beaches have a Blue Flag, which is a very good percentage. It is by far, of all Southern European countries, the one with the highest percentage of flagged beaches”, he continued, describing it as “the result of good work”.
This year the northern region will hoist 56 Blue Flags on their beaches, 13 more than in 2009. This is thanks to the approval of seven new beaches (Silvade, Fraga da Pegada, Angeiras Norte, Pedras Brancas, Azul, Leça da Palmeira and Gondarém).
Nineteen beaches throughout central Portugal will be flying a symbolic Blue Flag, one more than in 2009, due to the re-entrance of the Esmoriz beach.
It was in the Tagus region that the biggest loss of Blue Flags was registered, with 11 fewer flags being attributed than last year. This was largely because three key municipalities, Sintra, Cascais and Figueiró dos Vinhos, refused to be candidates as a form of protest against an alleged ‘lack of investment’ in the region’s coastline, as well as the rules and regulations of the candidacy process.
In the Alentejo 23 beaches were presented with flags, two more than last year, though it is the Algarve that boasts the greatest number of awards, with 69 beaches having been attributed an award (15 more than in 2009).
Three new Algarvean beaches have been bestowed the honour of flying a Blue Flag this year, (Galé Oeste, Arrifes and Batata), while two lost their flag (Pego Fundo and Faro Ria).
Despite the chaos caused by the devastating floods, Madeira only lost five flags from its beaches and one from a Marina, being awarded 16 in total.
The Azores was the only region to maintain the exact same number of prized beaches, with 28 Blue Flags flying loud and proud.
Fourteen Portuguese marinas will fly a Blue Flag, one less than last year, eight of which are on mainland Portugal (Porto de Recreio de Oeiras and Lisbon’s Park of Nations, Tróia and Porto de Recreio, Sines [Alentejo] and four in the Algarve).
Five marinas in the Azores and one in Madeira also have the symbolic award.
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