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This Year’s Ecological Blue Flag Ceremony Awards the Cleanest Beaches in Costa Rica

Just two weeks ago, Costa Rica held its annual Ecological Blue Flag ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in San José. This year, five of Costa Rica’s beaches along the Pacific Coast were declared the cleanest in the country.

Three Costa Rica beaches – Playa Blanca in Puntarenas and Matapalo and Punta El Madero in Guanacaste – obtained the maximum of five stars in the certification program sponsored by the Water and Sewer Institute’s (AyA) National Water Laboratory.

Junquillal a Guanacaste beach and Manuel Antonio in Puntarenas received three stars during the event, hosted by Vice President Alfio Piva, Environment Minister René Castro, AyA President Yessenia Calderón and BAE program coordinator Darner Mora.

Costa Rica’s Ecological Blue Flag Program is a voluntary program that annually awards compliance with a series of requirements including water quality, safety conditions, general services and environmental protection. A total of 122 beaches submitted applications for the Blue Flag program. 107 received at least one star, including the beaches of Hacienda Pinilla, Samara, and Hermosa.

Costa Rica’s Annual Blue Flag Ceremony Awards the Efforts of Coastal Communities

Launched in 1996, following Spain who awarded the first Blue Flag in 1987, Costa Rica’s Blue Flag Ecological Program was created in response to the threats of imminent beach pollution, taking into account the repercussions on public health as well as the Costa Rica tourism industry. Since then, more than 30 countries have adopted the Blue Flag program, including Panama, Guatemala and Perú.

An inter-institutional effort based on the fulfillment of required criteria, The Ecological Blue Flag Award is granted annually to those communities who meet 90% of what is required throughout the year. Aspects ranging from microbiological quality to coastal sanitation and environmental education as well as security and administration are all evaluated when granting the prestigious Blue Flag Beach recognition.

Derived from the original institution in Europe, Costa Rica’s “Blue Flag” program provides strong incentives to hotels, local tourism boards, and coastal communities that work together to protect Costa Rica’s beaches.

Blue Flags are awarded in 10 categories: beaches, communities, schools, natural protected areas, watersheds, climate change, climate neutral community, community health, sustainable homes and special events. Awards in the other categories will be presented in coming weeks. A total of 2,959 communities, organizations and companies submitted bids for the 2013 awards.

Source The Tico Times