The Murcia region has maintained its 32 coveted “Blue Flags”, as Spain leads the latest international ranking of safe and sustainable beach and marina facilities.
Operated internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education and in Spain by the Asociación de Educación Ambiental y del Consumidor, the annual awards are based on “pure water, clean coasts, safety and access for all”.
To qualify for a “Blue Flag” – considered one of the world’s most recognised voluntary eco-labels awarded to beaches, marinas and sustainable boating tourism operators – a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained.
According to the foundation, “Central to the ideals of the Blue Flag program is the aim of connecting the public with their surroundings and encouraging them to learn more about their environment. As such, environmental education activities must be offered and promoted in addition to a permanent display of information relevant to the site in terms of biodiversity, ecosystems and environmental phenomena.”
This year, 4,825 beaches, marinas and boats have been recognised by an international jury in 47 countries across five continents. In Spain, 713 flags were awarded in a total of 243 municipalities: 615 for beaches (26 more than in 2020), 96 for marinas (an additional two) and two for tourist boats.
Spain has topped the global “Blue Flag” ranking since 1994, this year leading the way against France and Italy. Nationally, Valencia is the top region, with 153 flags (137 beaches and 16 marinas); while Alicante is the most highly distinguished province, with 89 (74 beaches and 15 marinas).
Neighbouring Murcia region’s total of 32 flags for 2021 (the same as last year) comprises 26 beaches and six marinas, as well as a new “Sendero Azul” award (“Blue Trail”) for Senda de los Tarays in San Pedro del Pinatar municipality.
Águilas has the highest number of flags among Murcia’s municipalities, with 11: nine beaches – Las Delicias, Levante, La Colonia, Poniente, Calarreona, Matalentisco, La Higuerica, La Carolina and La Casica Verde; and two marinas – Club Náutico Águilas and Puerto Deportivo Juan Montiel.
Mazarrón is next with 10: eight beaches – Rihuete, El Puerto, Bahía, Nares, Grande-Castellar, Alamillo, El Mojón and Percheles; and two marinas – Club de Regatas and Puerto Deportivo. Completing the Murcia podium is Cartagena: six flags for beaches – La Chapineta, Cala Cortina, Isla Plana, La Azohía-El Cuartel, Levante-Cabo de Palos and San Ginés; and one for Real Club de Regatas marina. Cartagena is also distinguished with three “Senderos Azules” for Puerto de Cartagena, the “Camina 10.000 pasos: La Manga-Cabo de Palos” initiative and “De Iglesia a Iglesia, La Azohía-Isla Plana”.