The province of Málaga has been awarded eight fewer Blue Flags to fly on its beaches and marinas this year, although the town of Nerja has once again won none at all.  The certification has been awarded since 1987 by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) to tourist facilities and operators which meet stringent standards including quality, safety, environmental education and information, the provision of services and general environmental management.

This year, Spain is permitted to display 669 Blue Flags, 28 fewer than last year but enough for the country to maintain its position as world leader.  Amongst the provinces, Valencia won the most (150), followed by Cataluña (120) and Galicia (119).  The 98 flags awarded to Andalucía put it in fourth place nationally.

The FEE said that 53 beaches across the country were denied Blue Flags for failing to comply with legislation, 23 because of the poor quality of their bathing water and 14 for failing adequately to treat urban waste.

Secretary of State for Tourism, Isabel Oliver, said the drop in the number of flags was “not a drama” but a fact which would lead to improvements.  The requirements, she added, are “very demanding” and underline the need for the preservation and care of tourist amenities.

Along the east coast, Vélez-Málaga will fly flags at Benajarafe, Torre del Mar and La Caleta Paseo beaches, while the beach at Algarroba Costa and Ferrera beach in Torrox have also been awarded the accolade.  In addition, the marina at Caleta de Vélez is one of five ports in Málaga which have again been awarded a Blue Flag.

On Granada’s Costa Tropical, Playa Calahonda has regained the Blue Flag which it lost three years ago for economic reasons, while flags have been retained at Torrenueva and at Playa Granada in Motril