A bombshell in the middle of the tourist season for one of the favorite tourists’ destinations in the Ionian Sea. All Blue Flags have been removed from the island of Zakynthos (Zante). Local media report that the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature and the Tourism Committee have removed all Blue Flags from the island of Zakynthos (Zante) after complaints that awarded beaches do not fulfill the program criteria.
Reason for the withdrawals are reportedly complaints to the HSPN concerning the management of liquid waste and in particular the effluent outflows into the river of Agios Charalambos and the general operation of the biological cleaning unit.
Other factors that added to the decision is the presence of garbage on the streets for which many tourists have complained as well as the absence of lifeguards at the beaches with Blue Flags.
“The news of blue flags withdrawal hit like a lightning strike,” local media imerazante.gr wrote on Friday. “Although the Municipality knew about the decision already on 13. July, it took no action to prevent it,” the news website adds.
Now the authorities in charge of the Blue Flags have to evaluate the complaints and to conduct strict controls in order to verify if they are valid.
A total of 18 beaches on the island in the Ionian Sea were awarded with the Blue Flags this year.
Such conditions create a bad picture of the island which is the favorite destination of thousands of tourists every year.
“Let’s not forget that big international travel agencies pay special attention to the “Blue Flag” when choosing the destinations they propose to their customers. They insist on the good services offered on the coast but also on the protection of the environment,” imerazante concludes its report.
After an extraordinary meeting of the City Council local authorities issued a statement urging for new controls in the infrastructure of the 18 beaches.
“Current issues of infrastructure management and the recruitment of lifeguards with the new law that doubles the number of lifeguards to 18 out of 9 last year to cover all the busy beaches make it more difficult for them to meet the criteria set by the program.”
In cooperation with the HSPN the municipality decided to request more controls to be conducted in summer in order to certify the program and to “not leave any doubt about the integrated management of the award-winning beaches.
For the rest of the summer 2018 the Municipality of Zakynthos will continue its participation in the Blue Flag program without the hoisting of the flags until control checks are completed with the aim to hoist the Blue Flags in June 2019, the statement stressed.
Also in 2017, Blue Flags were revoked from 5 beaches on Zakynthos.