Cyprus, along with Malta and Luxembourg, is ranked in first place for the purity of its bathing waters, as reported by the National Blue Flag Programme Judge, CYMEPA, during a recent ceremony of awarding 79 Blue Flags to 77 of the country’s beaches and two marinas.
Blue Flag criteria include standards for quality, safety, environmental education and information, the provision of services and general environmental management criteria.
The event was held at the Vouppa beach of the Agios Tychon community, with the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment ( Cyprus -South), Petros Xenophontos, congratulating the 77 local authorities and the two marinas that secured this year’s distinction.
In his address, Xenophontos said that the Blue Flag is the most recognised and widespread ecological symbol of quality in the world, which rewards, with strict criteria, organised beaches that achieve high quality environmental goals.
An important achievement for Cyprus is the fact that 77 beaches out of 123 bathing water areas and two marinas meet the criteria, resulting in the award of the Blue Flag this year, which is another important distinction for our country,” he added.
The Minister stressed that according to the report prepared and sent to the European Commission for 2022, Cyprus follows the most stringent requirements of the Bathing Water Quality Management Directive and has fulfilled all the obligations arising from it.
In particular, he added, Cyprus receives a 99.2% compliance rate, with 119 out of 120 bathing water sites classified as excellent quality, while only one site has not yet received classification due to a limited number of samples.
Moreover, in her address, the Director of the Quality Assurance Department of the Deputy Ministry of Tourism ( Cyprus-South), Annita Demetriadou, said that it is no coincidence that every year the number of beaches in Cyprus that meet the criteria of the European program “Blue Flags” increases.
Recalling that the Cyprus Tourism Organisation pioneered the introduction of the Blue Flag institution in Cyprus in 1994, she stressed that the choice of CYMEPA as the national administrator of the programme proves to be absolutely right, taking into account “the excellent work it has done for the promotion of the institution in Cyprus”.
“As National Coordinator, the Ministry of Tourism has the Blue Flag programme high on its priorities,” she said, indicating that, in this year’s budget, more than 200 thousand euros have been approved for Local Authorities, as part of the plan for the qualitative and aesthetic upgrading of beaches.
CYMEPA Secretary General and Chairman of the National Blue Flags Judge, Dr Michael Ierides announced that Cyprus is ranked first among EU countries, together with Malta and Luxembourg, in terms of water purity, with a 100% rate, while Greece is in second place with 97% and Germany in third place with 94%.
He also expressed his satisfaction for the fact that, at the end of 2023, thirty years of Blue Flags in Cyprus will be completed, underlining that we are at the crossroads of changes, as the Blue Flag map is expected to change with the reform of the Local Government.
Speaking on behalf of the community, council chairman Pambos Charalambous said that Agios Tychon embraced the institution from its first steps and included all its beaches in it, “not because we wanted to be first, but because we believe that the Blue Flag is the tool we need to help us in the qualitative upgrading of our beaches”.
During the ceremony, which included an artistic programme by the Cyprus Police Philharmonic Orchestra, Paralimni received 19 Blue Flags, 16 were awarded to Ayia Napa, seven to Agios Tychon, six to the Paphos Municipality, three each to the Larnaca Municipality and the Geroskipou Municipality, the Municipality of Pegeia and Neo Chorio, two each for the Municipality of Limassol, Polis Chrysochous, Pentakomo, and Pyrgos, and one Blue Flag each for Voroklini, Pervolia, Zygi, Parekklisia, the Municipality of Germasogeia, the Municipality of Agios Athanasios, Episkopi, Pissouri, and Lemba. The marina of Ayia Napa and the Limassol marina were also awarded the Blue Flag.