Blue Flag National Operator Meeting 2018

Each year, all Blue Flag National Operators from the network meet to discuss and exchange ideas about the technicalities of the programme, the strategy, best practices and other issues. This year the meeting took place in Zakynthos, Greece.

Over 60 participants from 43 countries attended the two-day meeting. The focus this year was on developing again strong links between the Sustainable Development Goals from the UN and other new challenges that the Blue Flag programme will be taking on in the near future.

We would like to thank our Blue Flag National Operator in Greece, The Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, for hosting the meeting this year, to the Greek Minister of Tourism, Elena Kountoura, for opening our meeting and all the participants who brought new ideas and excitement to the Blue Flag programme.

Pictures: Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature

Blue Flag official ceremony and meeting

Blue Flag presented the award for its fifteenth season in Puerto Rico

Before a large group of attendees Blue Flag celebrated its fifteen consecutively seasons in the island. The official ceremony, sponsored by the Tourism Company, distinguished three beaches, three sustainable tourism boat companies and one marina that received the flag for the new season. It has been a difficult year not only to Puerto Rico but also to the eastern Caribbean after two major hurricanes affected the zone. The opportunity to highlight and celebrate this achievement is very significant not only to Blue Flag but also for the local community.    

With the presence of the municipalities, members of the press, awardees’ staff and friends the flag was presented during the night of the 8th of November with a cocktail in emblematic Old San Juan. The beaches that received the flag were Balneario El Escambrón in San Juan, Balneario de Carolina, for its fifteenth consecutive occasion, and for the first time the Balneario Puerto Nuevo in Vega Baja. Marina Puerto del Rey ratified under the marina’s category, while in the sustainable boating tourism operators both Bellaventuras and East Island Excursions revalidate while a new operator, Island Venture Excursions, emerged. The award application is voluntarily for any beach, marina or tourist boat operator that meets the internationally established criteria.

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Blue Flag is the eco certification of quality with greater extension and implantation worldwide. The presence of this award at a local level positions the island as a destination with better offerings for travelers, with beaches and facilities that meet strict criteria that involves ensuring water quality, safe and adequate facilities for its users including the ones with special needs and also environmental education activities to its visitors. Not only does Blue Flag manage to engage beach, marine and boat managers towards sustainable operations and demonstrate their corporate social responsibility, it also directly involves the community that benefits from the educational activities offered during the season.

Preparing the coming season in the Northern Hemisphere: Blue Flag technical meeting in Italy

As every year at the end of October the Blue Flag technical meeting  make the new campaign starting. The meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport saw the participation of local referent of Blue Flag awarded sites and also municipalities members that are starting to follow the way of the sustainability set to continuous improvement, as required by the programme.

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With more than 260 representatives of the Municipalities present, all the topics related to the Blue Flag Program and the news for 2019 were dealt. Every year during the technical meeting a training session is held, dedicated to the issue of the accessibility of the beach and the services for disabled people for this year. Regulatory and structural aspects were deepened sharing the best practices.”

Destinations for All Summit: The Accessible Tourism world met in Brussels this week, Blue Flag International was there.

On 01-02 October 2018, Brussels-based non-profit organisation, CAWAB, hosted the 2nd World Summit on Accessible Tourism. Non-profit organisations, public entities and companies met and shared best practices from all around the world in the theme of accessible tourism.

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Accessibility affects people with disabilities and their families, but also elderly people (a constantly growing portion of our societies), families with young children, pregnant women, parents with pushchairs, people with a plaster cast, and any other person with specific needs.

If we compare tourism to a chain, it is made of several links including arrival, accommodation, restaurants, shopping, transport, and tourist attractions.

Blue Flag International was present and gave a presentation at the panel “Territory labelling program”. A short overview of the Blue Flag programme on a global scale, the Foundation for Environmental Education behind the programme and the next steps towards working on a broader view and requirements on accessibility within the certifications for the future.

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With more than 400 participants, from 40 countries, Destinations for All summit provided knowledge, best practices and potential partners for the future.  

Our partner, AccessRec, was present as well and showcased their beach accessibility tools: accessibility mats and amphibian wheelchair.

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Press Release: Blue Flag awarded to 137 sites in the Southern Hemisphere

Press Release: Blue Flag awarded to 137 sites in the Southern Hemisphere

The International Blue Flag Jury meeting took place on 5 September 2018, roughly a year after Hurricane Maria violently hit Puerto Rico and Hurricanes Irma and Jose devastated the Caribbean Islands and parts of the USA in September 2017. Among the countries proudly flying the Blue Flag in the region, Sint Maarten and the US Virgin Islands are still working to reestablish the Blue Flag criteria in the wake of the storms.

Blue Flag International and ENAT sign Memorandum of Understanding

Blue Flag International and ENAT sign Memorandum of Understanding

The Foundation for Environmental Education, through its Blue Flag certification, long recognised as the global benchmark for sustainable beaches, marinas and boat-based activities around the world, has signed an agreement with ENAT – The European Network for Accessible Tourism non-profit association to work together to promote access for all visitors to beaches, marinas and boat-based activities.