The Blue Flag is an international recognition, established in 1987, which is awarded every year in 49 countries, initially only in Europe, more recently also outside Europe, with the support and participation of the two UN agencies: UNEP (Program of Nations Unite for the environment) and UNWTO (World Tourism Organization). The main objective of this program is to direct the local management policy of numerous coastal towns towards a process of environmental sustainability.
In other words, the Blue Flag indicates a beach or a tourist place where the environment is respected and high quality standards are maintained for the waters and surrounding infrastructures. However, this recognition is not eternal and the various beaches must earn it every year.
The criteria for the assignment of the Blue Flag are absolute validity of bathing water, efficiency of purification and waste management, pedestrian areas, cycle paths, street furniture, green areas, beach services, removal of architectural barriers, courses of environmental education, hotel facilities, public health services, tourist information, environmental certification of institutional activities and tourist facilities, sustainable fishing.
But what are the points to take into consideration to obtain the coveted flag?
The beach must fully comply with the sampling and frequency requirements relating to the quality of bathing water:no waste water discharge (urban or industrial) or the presence of bacteria (Escherichia Coli – Streptococci) or chemical substances must affect the water or the beach area.
An adequate number of rescue personnel and / or rescue equipment must be available on the beach.
Contingency plans for cases of pollution or risk to environmental safety must be prepared.
The management of different users and different uses of the beach must be foreseen in order to prevent conflicts and accidents.
Safety measures for the protection of bathers must be implemented and free access to the public must be guaranteed.
A source of drinking water must be available on the beach.
At least one Blue Flag beach for each municipality must have access and facilities for the physically disabled.
210 Italian municipalities have been awarded the Blue Flag this year. The Sicilian new entry is Furci Siculo, my town, which is added to Roccalumera, Alì Terme and Santa Teresa di Riva, all wonderful towns in the province of Messina.
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