The Blue Flag Ecology Program functions as a multi-agency venture of numerous Costa Rican government institutions. Some of these include the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), Ministry of Environment (MINAE), Insituto Costarricense de Alcantarillas y Acueductos (AyA), Ministry of Public Health (MINSA) and National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR), along with the members of local communities who personally strive and sacrifice to achieve the Blue Flag certification. Under the administration of the National Blue Flag Commission, these organizations have achieved certification on an ever growing list of beaches, schools and businesses receiving this prestigious award.
No easy feat to even qualify to win the Blue Flag Certification, Costa Rican beaches are evaluated on a strict criterion under the Blue Flag Ecology Program. Beaches are assessed on water quality of not only the ocean, but the drinking water, waste disposal,
The PBAE evaluated each beach based on 7 different aspects: quality of seawater (35%), quality of water for human consumption (15%), sanitary quality of the coast, which included garbage (10%), domestic sewage (15%), industrial sewage (5%), environmental education (10%), and safety and administration (10%). Only beaches with a 90% score can receive the coveted Blue Flag award. Based on the performance across these seven dimensions, each beach is then given a grade of 1 to 5 stars.
Although the Blue Flag Ecology Program was founded with the idea of improving education and awareness regarding the environment, the program has grown to provide a great sense of pride and accomplishment for not only the countries beaches, but local businesses, schools and other tourism operations. Every year more and more beach communities (and businesses) compete for the Blue Flag designation, furthering the original goal to include non-coastal communities, as well as non-tourism projects.
A total of 80 beaches from all over the country received the ecological blue flag award this year during the 16th ceremony of the Ecological Blue Flag Program (PBAE), which took place last March 28th at the Double Tree Hotel in Puntarenas.
So, hats off to our government agencies and their hard work and take a bow all you beaches, schools and businesses that through your hard work and perserverance have achieved this undeniably pretigious Ecological Blue Flag award. Felicidades!!