2015 Blue Flag at Can Pere Antoni beach in Palma. | Archive


A study by a doctor of geography and geology at the University of the Balearic Islands, Francesc Xavier Roig, has drawn into question the value of Blue Flags. His study is against the background of the Balearics now having only 27 Blue Flags; the record number was 72 in 2010. But this decrease has rarely had anything to do with beach or water quality; it's due to the fact that the award isn't applied for.

Roig points out that Formentera decided to stop having flags in 2002. "Since then, the quality of the beaches has not decreased and the number of users has not stopped increasing. What difference is there between a beach with or without a flag? None."

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"In the eighties, Blue Flags did make sense because then there was pollution and the mark helped, to a greater or lesser extent, to improve the situation. With the development of regional legislation and the Coasts Law, order was established, so that by the beginning of this century they no longer made sense." In his view, tourists don't notice them, so he questions the use of public money to obtain them.

Roig highlights the fact that town halls have pursued other systems of beach quality management. "To achieve these, a more constant management control of the beaches is required. For the Blue Flag there is just a specific X-ray."

When he was tourism minister, Biel Barceló got into a row with the Association for Environmental and Consumer Education, which manages the Blue Flag in Spain. Barceló openly questioned the value of the mark. The current minister, Iago Negueruela, said on Monday that "the most visited beaches" in the Balearics don't have a Blue Flag. "One has to consider the excellent beaches that we have without Blue Flags. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the Balearics don't have them."