In its latest survey, the International Blue Flag jury honoured the Turkish province with the most number of blue-flagged beaches in the world.
In 2020, Turkey was awarded Blue Flag certification endorsing beaches around the world for meeting high standards. It was revealed that the country had 486 beaches that met the criteria.
Despite the pandemic’s various challenges, Turkey increased its number of blue flagged beaches from 486 to 519 this year.
Turkey’s Antalya province, famous for its serene coastline, has retained its status of having the most blue-flagged eco-friendly beaches in the world, boasting a total of 213 compared to 202 last year.
As per the figures revealed by the International Blue Flag jury, Turkey as a country boasts the third-most blue flagged beaches in the world after Greece, which comes in second, and Spain, who takes the top prize. The southwestern province of Mugla followed Antalya with 106 Blue Flag beaches. Izmir came in third with 66, Aydin fourth with 39.
The certification is provided by the Foundation for Environmental Education, a non-profit headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. The award is given to beaches and marinas that have excellent water quality and safety standards, among other criteria.
Talking to TRT World, Almila Kindan Cebbari, who is the Blue Flag National Operator at Foundation for Environmental Education in Turkey, said; “I think our most important difference is our qualified enterprises, quality service understanding and unique hospitality. Our tourism business facilities are relatively new and offer a service that exceeds the expectations of luxury and comfort. I don't need to mention anything especially in the natural beauty part, I think that part already meets the expectations of our guests more than enough.”
According to Cebbari, the recent development is a result of Turkey’s long-term experience in the Blue Flag process which requires comprehensive and steady attention in environmental education and safety issues.
Cebbari adds that Turkey serves as an example to other countries. “With the opening of flights, I expect that guests will easily prefer Turkey.”
A board member on Turkey’s Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, Hamit Kuk recalls that Turkey has “a beach band that starts from Adana and goes up to Canakkale and is more than 2,000 kilometres long.”
He adds that in addition to the hundreds of blue-flagged beaches there are over 1,200 historical sites. “This diversified touristic climate differentiates Turkey from others,” Kuk tells TRT World.
According to Kuk, Turkey’s widespread vaccination among tourism industry employees will make a difference as well.
“Almost all tourism employees in Turkey have been vaccinated since April which makes Turkey safer for our guests,” Kuk argues.
“In an environment of relentless competition caused by coronavirus, the application of the Blue Flag has become very important in terms of delivering stronger messages to the target market,” he added.
The ‘Blue Flag’ is a certification that serves as an eco-label. The international programme is being implemented in 47 countries, and the exclusive eco-label criteria are set by the International Foundation for Environmental Education.
It is well known that the criteria for Blue Flag certification, such as environment, water quality and the cleanliness of the sea, plays a crucial role in helping a beach earn its label of "clean and safe".
It’s a rigorous process: the water quality of the sea is analysed once every 15 days; the beaches are also inspected for cleanliness and other parameters are checked, including lifeguards, controlling pets, recycling, and opportunities for the disabled.
Antalya welcomed almost 450,000 visitors between January and April alone, and Russians accounted for more than half of this figure.