The Balearics is the region of Spain to have lost more blue flags this year than any other region. Fifteen in all have been lost, including Camp de Mar and three in Palma, while there are three new ones in Majorca. Galicia is another region to have lost out, with eight fewer than in 2015, while Andalusia has two fewer. By contrast, Catalonia has nine new flags, Valencia five more, and Murcia, Asturias, the Basque Country and the Canaries have each gained four.

Across Spain, there are a total of 686 blue flags, one hundred of these being for ports and so 586 applying to beaches. This is an increase of ten in all, confirming Spain’s position as global leader when it comes to the total number of blue flags.

The president of the Bandera Azul association in Spain, José Ramón Sánchez, says that the loss of flags is due to there being “more demanding” criteria and that this has required a greater number of resources. A further criterion is that the treatment of water has to be “of quality”.

Isabel Borrego, the national secretary-of-state for tourism, points to the value of there being the number of blue flags that there are. This provides a point of differentiation with other tourist destinations and something that makes Spain “more competitive”. The sustainability of the country’s resorts and beach areas will be reinforced next year, which is the year for sustainable tourism under the auspices of the World Tourism Organization.

Behind Spain in the rankings for beaches comes Turkey with 444 blue flags, then Greece with 430 and France with 400. The Netherlands and Germany have more flags for ports - 113 and 109 respectively - than Spain.

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Andy Rawson / Hace over 4 years

For the record on most Blue Flag beaches "dogs are not allowed to enter the sandy area of the beach..." see the EU Blue Flag rules.