Blue flag beaches up; Greece takes 2nd place

The Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature (HSPN) said the number of blue flags awarded to Greek beaches this year increased to 430 from 428 previously, ranking the country in position No 2 on a list of 40 nations. Blue flags, awarded to beaches on qualitative criteria, were placed in regions throughout the country, with many being granted in Rhodes, Crete and Halkidiki. Swimmers interested in going for a nearby dip in Attica have nine blue-flag beaches to choose from, including Varkiza and Voula. HSPN runs the flag program for Greece, which rates beaches based on the quality of the seawater and organization of the swimming area, among other factors. Denmark’s Foundation for Environmental Education, a non-governmental group, operates the Blue Flag scheme internationally. It assessed more than 3,300 beaches last year across Europe, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and the Caribbean.