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398 Portuguese beaches win Blue Flag in 2024

This year, Portugal will have 398 beaches with the Blue Flag hoisted. There are also 19 marinas and 23 ecotourism vessels with the quality seal this bathing season.

The announcement was made at the Vasco da Gama Aquarium, in Dafundo, municipality of Oeiras, district of Lisbon, by the president of the European Blue Flag Association, José Archer, who said that the 398 beaches are distributed across 103 municipalities.

The complete list of awarded locations was made available on the official website of Bandeira Azul and can be consulted here. The flags will be distributed by the North (92, five more than last year), Center (49, two more), Tejo (84, eight more), Alentejo (40, one more), Algarve (92, seven more), Azores (56, twelve more) and Madeira (27, 11 more).

A beach distinguished with the Blue Flag complies with several criteria, including water quality and space (planning), safety and services, surveillance and awareness of people (environmental education).

The official considered the number of beaches, marinas and boats with the Blue Flag "to have grown again" as "good news", pointing out that the beaches are "on the verge of reaching 400".

José Archer also highlighted the "continuous growth of inland beaches", admitting that they are "naturally much more sensitive, more difficult to reach and maintain".

"Portugal stands out enormously in inland beaches. We are, worldwide, the second country with the most inland [river] beaches, with 49, more than double that of Spain and Italy, a number that deserves to be highlighted", he added.

In terms of coastal beaches, the official stressed that the number of beaches on the Portuguese coast with the Blue Flag "is fully consolidated", emphasizing that it will "grow as new beaches are designated".

Regarding the loss of the Blue Flag, José Archer said that all situations, in relation to last year, took into account the quality of the water, and that in the case of Zambujeira do Mar it is related to the impact of the summer festival that takes place in the southwest Alentejo town, in the municipality of Odemira, district of Beja.

In the "more sensitive" river beaches, he added, it is enough "for there to be an accident or spill upstream and it ends up having an impact on the water quality".

"These are specific situations, which is a pity because they end up going a year without being able to hoist the Blue Flag, it is also a warning for people's behavior that sometimes a reckless attitude leads to the effort of a community going down the drain", he said.

At an international level, Portugal ranks second in terms of awarded ecotourism vessels, with 23, and 19 marinas have also been awarded. In these two categories, there were two more distinctions than last year.

The official Blue Flag hoisting ceremony on a coastal beach will take place at Fontinha beach, in Porto Santo, Madeira, on June 1st.

The first Blue Flag hoisting on a river beach will take place in Agroal, Ourém, in the district of Santarém, on June 7th.

The first marina where the Blue Flag will be hoisted will be at the Calheta Marina, in Madeira, on May 31st.

The Blue Flag Program is an education program for sustainable development, promoted in Portugal by the Blue Flag Association of Europe, the Portuguese section of the Foundation for Environmental Education.

The bathing season of each year is defined in an ordinance, published in the Official Gazette, which identifies the bathing waters and the definition of the respective season, considering that, until then, at a national level, it runs from May 1st to October 30th.

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