Portugal flying the blue flags

By TPN/Lusa, in News, Tourism, Health & Environment · 07-05-2021 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Portugal has 372 river and coastal beaches awarded with the Blue Flag this year, 12 more than in 2020, spread across 98 municipalities, five of which enter the list for the first time.

This year the Blue Flag list includes 330 coastal beaches, eight more than in 2020, and 42 river beaches, four more than last year.

The coastal beaches are distributed in the North (72), Centre (29), Tagus (50), Alentejo (31), Algarve (87), Azores (45) and Madeira (16).

In total, the North region has 79 beaches (72 coastal and seven river beaches, two more and one more than in 2020, respectively), the Centre has 46 (29 coastal and 17 river beaches), the Tagus has 62 (50 coastal and 12 river beaches, three more and two more, respectively), the Alentejo has 37 (31 coastal and six river beaches, plus one river beach), the Algarve has 87 (coastal), the Azores has 45 (three more coastal) and Madeira has 16 coastal.

According to the national coordination of the Blue Flag Programme, Fafe (Braga), Oleiros (Castelo Branco), Óbidos (Leiria), Avis (Portalegre) and Beja enter the list for the first time, while Calheta (Madeira) re-enters.

The Blue Flag also covers 16 marinas (two less than in 2020), nine on the mainland and seven in the autonomous regions, and 11 ecotourism vessels (two more than last year), five in mainland Portugal and six in Madeira.

Requiring an "excellent" water quality record for municipalities to submit their applications, the Blue Flag Programme publishes the list of the 372 beaches on the website www.bandeiraazul.abae.pt/galardoados/galardoados-2021/.

The official ceremonies for the hoisting of the Blue Flag on coastal beaches will begin on 1 June at Moledo beach, in the municipality of Caminha (Viana do Castelo).

The first raising of the Blue Flag on river beaches will take place on 15 June, at Albufeira de Santa Clara, Odemira (Beja), and the hoisting of the Blue Flag on marinas will take place at the Vila do Porto Marina, Santa Maria Island (Azores).

On the sidelines of the presentation, the president of the European Blue Flag Association (EBAE), José Archer, pointed to an "excellent" bathing season, after adding 12 more beaches to the list compared to 2020.

"The number has grown, so we have 12 more awarded beaches than last year. We have reached the number of 372 award-winning bathing areas, which is a very expressive number," he said.

According to José Archer, people will have all the safety conditions, due to the pandemic context, to go to the beach, stressing that "the situation is much better than last year".

"Everything indicates that we are going to have a fantastic [bathing] season, already with last year's experience, which went very well, with the beach safety rules regarding covid," he stressed, adding that "the forecast for the summer is better than last year."

Under the theme "Ecosystems Recovery", the Blue Flag Programme will also have an ecological component this year, framed in the United Nations (UN) declaration for 2021-2030, decade for Ecosystems Recovery.

"Ecosystems have a determining importance in the environment in general terms. If we manage to recover 50 percent of ecosystems that are degraded, this will allow more than half of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions to be retained by nature and more than 70 percent of endangered species to be recovered," said José Archer.

For the president of the EBAE, the balance of ecosystems is determinant for a sustainable development of the systems themselves.

Questioned about the maintenance of traffic light systems on beaches, as happened in 2020, José Archer said that the Directorate General of Health (DGS) will still make a decision, but that all signs point to the same rules as last year being implemented.

"Everything indicates that it will, because it worked [last year]. We also found that, on most beaches, it was not necessary because they are not beaches that have a very large capacity, but in urban areas it proved useful", he said, noting that the DGS "opportunely will disclose" the measures for the new bathing season.



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