Puerto Alcudia. The beach has numerous quality certifications but not the Blue Flag. | Andrew Ede

The Balearics will this year have the same number of Blue Flags for the islands' beaches - 45 - as in 2016. In addition, fourteen ports in Majorca, three in Ibiza and two in Minorca have this year been awarded Blue Flags.

Although the number of Blue Flags for beaches in the Balearics remains unaltered, it might be noted that fifteen were lost in 2016, the highest number among Spain's regions. Three new ones were also awarded.

For 2017 in Majorca specifically, there will be 32 flags for beaches as well as the fourteen for ports. This in fact represents an overall loss. Gone from last year's beaches are Paguera, Santa Ponsa, Ses Penyes Rotges near Port Adriano, Son Moll in Cala Ratjada and Tamarells in Puerto Pollensa. Can Pere Antoni in Palma is one to get the flag back.

The fact is that there has been a declining interest in the Blue Flag among Majorca's local administrations. Last year, there was a spat between the regional government and ADEAC, which is the Blue Flag organising association in Spain. The president of this association wanted the government to withdraw remarks that questioned the value and indeed legitimacy of the award.

Certain municipalities are paying less attention to the Blue Flag because of the emergence of various other quality systems. In Manacor, for instance, there aren't Blue Flags. Alcudia is the same. Its main beach is covered by all manner of other systems and standards. The town hall doesn't bother putting its beaches forward for consideration.

Blue Flags nationally

The national secretary-of-state for tourism, Matilde Asián, is someone who does continue to appreciate the Blue Flags. She said yesterday that Spain's tourism leadership is "indisputable", noting that, apart from Blue Flags, the country has been named the most competitive for tourism for the second successive time. On the Blue Flags, she observed that they are awards which were ahead of their time when they were initiated thirty years ago.

Across Spain there are 579 Blue Flags. Spain is the world leader in terms of the number of flags and has been the leader for the past thirty years. The total is, though, down by seven. The decrease is attributed to demands for water quality which has to be "excellent" and not just good.

Valencia, with 129, has the most Blue Flags, followed by Galicia (113), Catalonia (95) and Andalusia (90). In terms of ports, the nineteen in the Balearics place the region in second place behind Catalonia with 2. The Balearics, specifically Colonia Sant Jordi, has three out of five "sustainable tourism boats" in Spain; the other two are in Malaga.

Rescue services and lifeguards, environmental information and accessibility for the disabled all come into the Blue Flag equation. Playa de Muro heads the list when it comes to rescue, along with Lloret del Mar and Gandía. There is a total of 475 defibrillators on Spain's beaches. This despite their not being mandatory according to Blue Flag criteria but have been recommended for the past four years.