By Constantinos Psillides
BEACHES in Cyprus were awarded a total of 57 Blue Flags, ranking the island on the top of the EU for ten consecutive years, according to Agriculture and Environment minister Nicos Kouyialis, adding that the awards will greatly aid the tourist industry.
The Blue Flag is a certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach or marina meets its standards in water quality, safety, environmental education and information, the provision of services and general environmental management criteria.
Speaking at the award ceremony held at the Paphos municipality on Thursday, Kouyialis said that keeping beaches to high environmental standard is a top priority for his ministry.
“Our goal is growth, creating new jobs, improving our tourist product and expanding into diving and fishing tourism by creating more artificial reefs like the one in Polis Chrysochous,” said the minister, adding that he is optimistic that it will “improve the income of people near the sea and attract more visitors.”
Kouyialis noted that Cyprus is the first EU country that complied 100 per cent with the strictest criteria for water quality.
“This environment-friendly economy is now an absolute necessity so the state and citizens must work together,” he remarked.
Head of the Paphos Beaches Committee, Nikos Simillides, stated that the municipality will continue working towards keeping the beaches at the same quality level, adding that he is proud that Paphos was awarded with nine Blue Flags.
“Being awarded a Blue Flag is a special honour. Clean beaches signify civility,” he explained.