"What is a blue flag"?
A Blue Flag is an international symbol connoting clean waters and it is probably the most recognizable environmental symbol worldwide. It is being awarded since 1987 to all coasts and beaches that comply with its very strict requirements. The coasts should not only provide the necessary water quality for swimming but they have to meet 29 other criteria related to cleanliness, organization, safety and protection of the environment.
All major travel agencies abroad take into
consideration the existence of a blue flag when they select the destinations
for their clients, focusing on high quality services as well as the protection
of the environment. This is a well known fact to all coast administrators such as
Municipalities, hotel and camping owners.
Coordinators - Sponsors - Participants:
- The international coordinator of the project is the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) based in Denmark and it has 49 national representatives from all continents.
- The coordinator of the project in Greece since 1992 is the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (HSPN), the oldest environmental union of the country, which was established in 1951. It is active in the sector of environmental education with 5 projects funded from the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs related to the protection of nature, environmental interventions and the general information of the public.
- Alpha Bank is a supporter of the effort to protect the natural environment of the coast and the sea, so that they can remain safe for everyone to use. It is the exclusive supporter of the project ‘Blue Flags'' for 7 years in the row.
- The Central Union of Municipalities and local Communities (KEDKE) participates in the project and urges the Organizations of Local Administration to adopt the project''s initiatives. It also participates with a representative at the National Committee of Evaluation.
- The Hellenic Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works supports the ‘Blue Flags'' by participating at the National Committee of Evaluation and provides important data on the quality of the swimming water. This data refers to the previous summer period. The Hellenic Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works is the exclusive responsible authority for the inspection of the swimming water, based on the EU instructions 76/160/EEC of the project for the ‘Inspection of the quality of the swimming waters''. Therefore, it analyses the swimming water in authorized microbiological laboratories every 15 days and publishes the results on the website of the Hellenic Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works throughout the summer and until the end of the swimming season (June-October). It also supports the project with representatives at the National Committee of Evaluation, the Ministry of Tourist Development, of Mercantile Marine, Public Administration, Health and Social Insurance, National Tourist Organization, the non-government Organization Association for the Protection of Sea Turtle ‘Archelon''.
The Greek case - Rethymno
The International Commission has awarded the blue flag to 2579 coasts this year. Greece is 2nd among 49 countries with the most ‘Blue Flags'' - 428 this year in comparison to 411 last year. 6 of them are in the Municipality of Rethymno.