According to the Blue Flag International Jury awards of 2016, Turkey emerged second in housing the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in the world. It is apparent that the numerous Blue Flag beaches in Turkey coupled with the addition of two beaches, Fener Beach and Sheraton Grande Samsun Hotel Beach in the Northern Black Sea city of Samsun have influenced this ranking. Turkey is nevertheless reported to occupy the second position out of 50 countries with 444 Blue Flag beaches after Spain, which boasts of 588 Blue Flag beaches 50 countries.
It is worth noting that the Foundation for Environmental Education for Turkey (TÜRÇEV) is responsible for coordinating the Blue Flag Beach Program in Turkey. According to reports, 21 marinas have also received Blue Flag titles this year 2016.
Of course, Blue Flag beaches are of utmost importance for the tourism industry. This therefore explains why Samsun Metropolitan Mayor, Yusuf Ziya Yılmaz revealed that Blue Flag beaches are a positive force for a city's tourism potential.
The Blue Flag program was however initiated in 1987 at an international level, even though Turkey joined the program in 1993. Reports nevertheless have it that among the participating countries, more than 3500 beaches and 682 marinas have Blue Flags. The coastal city of Antalya is said to have more Blue Flag beaches than any other city. Antalya has 201 Blue Flag beaches and it’s followed by Muğla and Izmir with 100 and 47 Blue Flag beaches respectively.
The label, "Blue Flag" is nevertheless an exclusive eco-label awarded by the Copenhagen-based Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) to beaches and marinas which meet certain criteria. Some of such criteria however include the quality of water, environmental education and information, environmental management, as well as safety. According to TÜRÇEV seawater analyses are conducted every 15 days in the seasonal period. More so, to fully comply with Blue Flag criteria, lifeguards are expected to be present on the beaches, while swimming and water sports areas are separated from each other.
It is worthy to note that all Blue Flags are often awarded one season at a time and if the criteria are not fulfilled during the season or the conditions change, the Blue Flag may be withdrawn.