Accessibility and the expansion of Blue Flag in Asia at the centre of attention in the 2019 Blue Flag Northern Hemisphere awards

Copenhagen, 27 May 2019 – This year, we are happy to announce that South Korea won its first Blue Flag award, thus increasing the presence of Blue Flag in Asia. Accessibility was the hot topic of this year’s work, both for the international jury discussion and our programme development.

 For the 2019 season, the Blue Flag International Jury has awarded the world’s leading tourism ecolabel to more than 4,400 beaches, boats and marinas in the Northern Hemisphere. This brings the total number of Blue Flag sites worldwide to 4,560, in 45 countries. All northern hemisphere countries have held their national award ceremonies and results for the network are now displayed on

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Today we release the results of the Blue Flag International Jury meeting for the Northern Hemisphere, sharing with you the highlights of this year’s evaluation. Here you will be able to read about our new Blue Flag awarded beach in Asia and the new developments regarding accessibility and Blue Flag boats.

After several years of implementation of the Blue Flag criteria on its beach, Wando County in South Korea has seen its application for Sinji Myeongsasimri Beach approved by the International Blue Flag jury. This first beach in South Korea joins the four Blue Flag beaches awarded in Japan and further increases Blue Flag’s reach in the Asian region.

Moreover, as part of the candidates’ 2019 evaluation, best practices regarding accessibility have been reviewed and highly appreciated by the International Jury. Some of these year’s best practices will be featuring in our best practice database, which is freely available on our website for all to use: To improve the countries’ accessibility practices, Blue Flag has also entered into a partnership with Total Beach Access.

“This is a unique project, which we have worked very hard on in the past months. It will enable our sites to have accessibility material at little or no cost through the use of sponsorship. Our partners, the European Network for Accessible Tourism and the United World Tourism Organisation, have both expressed their favour for this partnership, seen as a unique set-up which could be a game-changer for beaches worldwide”, says Sophie Bachet Granados, International Blue Flag Director.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning that our new development in 2016 lead us to award Sustainable Boating Tourism Operators (SBTOs). These boats conduct various touristic activities, such as nature or whale watching, city canal tours, scuba diving or recreational fishing, and must be part of the integrated coastal management plan of a region. Already 67 boats have joined us worldwide and are receiving their certification in 2019. “This is just the beginning as we are working hand in hand with Sail Training International towards finalizing a set of criteria for Sail Training Vessels which should be launched in 2020.  By increasing our fleet of awarded boats, we aim to increase our positive impact on the oceans!” concludes Sophie.

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About the International Blue Flag Jury:

The International Blue Flag Jury is composed of representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), International Lifesaving Federation (ILS), the European Environment Agency (EEA), the European Union for Coastal Conservation (EUCC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA), the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and FEE. You can find out more about them on Blue Flag’s website:

Note that the next meeting of the Blue Flag International Jury will take place in September to award beaches, marinas and boats from the Caribbean, South America, Africa and southwest Pacific. India and Colombia, who have been working hard on the implementation of the Blue Flag programme for the past few years, might be the next ones to join the Blue Flag network with some awarded sites after this International Jury meeting.

Countries working towards implementing the prestigious Blue Flag include Cabo Verde, Chile and Finland.


The Blue Flag greatly appreciates the support of its sponsor, the worldwide flag producer Semaphore and Total Beach Access, which provides sponsored beach access for the disabled. 

The Blue Flag programme is run by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE):

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