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Politics

Turkey Wants to Surpass Greece, Spain for Most Blue Flag Beaches

ATHENS – Coming out of nowhere to rise to third in the world in Blue Flag beaches certified as having pristine waters and conditions, Turkey plans to overtake number one Spain and number two Greece to become first.

The beaches lure tourists and Turkey has struggled to compete with Greece but has turned its attention to adding more, with 519 behind Spain’s 621 and Greece’s 581, said Turkey’s pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah. Turkey had 459 in 2018.

Most are in Antalya, which Turkey calls the Turkish Riviera and has 229 Blue Flag beaches, followed by Muğla, with 111 and Izmir with 66 in an area Turkey calls TurkAegean to outflank Greece.

Professor Abdülkadir Ateş, head of the Foundation for Environmental Education in Turkey (TÜRÇEV), which awards the flag on behalf of the Denmark-based Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in Türkiye, told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency that “Turkey achieved significant progress in terms of blue-flagged facilities. Three decades ago, there were none but today, it competes with other countries. We hope it will achieve the highest rank.”

How did it happen? Turkey has conducted awareness campaigns including environmental education in 1200 schools. “We raise a generation more sensitive to keeping seas clean, preservation of forests and the importance of Blue Flag beaches,” he said of the effort.

Some are privately owned, while others are public beaches, operated by different public agencies. The Culture and Tourism Ministry said the beaches it operated in Antalya’s Lara, Manavgat, Beldibi and Çamyuva and Içmeler neighborhoods in Muğla’s Marmaris district earned Blue Flag status too.

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