The southern resort city of Antalya, often regarded as one of the top tourism destinations in the world, is second to none with its 206 eco-friendly beaches, which lead the global tourism industry.
The Blue Flag certification, an international program implemented in 50 countries, is an exclusive international eco-label given to beaches and marinas after they meet certain criteria set by the International Foundation for Environmental Education, an independent non-profit organization.
The first Blue Flag of this year was captured by the Lara Barut Collection of hotels, with the program organized by the Foundation for Environmental Education in Turkey (TÜRÇEV) and its coordinator Lokman Atasoy.
Atasoy said criteria such as the environment, water quality and cleanliness of the sea play a key role in the Blue Flag program, which label beaches as "clean and safe," adding that this program has run successfully in Turkey for more than three decades.
The water quality of the sea is analyzed every 15 days, Atasoy noted, saying that beaches are regularly inspected for cleanliness and other parameters, including lifeguards, pet control, recycling and opportunities for the disabled.
The coronavirus pandemic brought more responsibilities for the groups that manage beaches, and this year's assessment included criteria such as social distancing, hygiene and mask disposal bins, he stressed.
He also said Antalya has more blue-flagged beaches than any other touristic cities, followed by Valencia of Spain and Occitanie of France, which respectively have 134 and 109 blue flags.
In the meantime, nearly all the tourism facilities in Turkey are expected to open their doors in July as part of the normalization process in the wake of the pandemic, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy recently said.
The country recently resumed limited international flights and only allows foreign tourists from certain countries to enter Turkey. Air traffic is expected to increase in July, Ersoy said, adding that the reopening of flights for most countries will be completed in August.
Turkey launched a "healthy tourism certificate" program to convince travelers that despite the pandemic, Turkey’s beaches and historic treasures will be safe to visit this year, with rigorous checks on airlines, local transport and hotels.
The program has 132 criteria, including ensuring that hygiene regulations are followed and social distancing is practiced. Staff members are also to be trained in measures to prevent the spread of infection.
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