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Holiday beaches across Greece are stripped of Blue Flags

Greek islands lose 38 Blue Flags after spot checks.

Spot checks on Greek island holiday beaches this summer have resulted in a total of 38 beaches being stripped of their coveted international Blue Flag status.

It means that some beaches on popular island holiday destinations like Corfu, Crete, Lesvos and Zante will not be able to fly the Blue Flag in the 2015 summer season as they will not be eligible to enter for consideration.

In 2014, a total of 408 Blue Flags were awarded to Greek beaches in the Islands and on the Greek mainland, adding another 15 to the 2013 figure of 393.

But that number has now dropped to 370 after inspections during the summer revealed that the 38 beaches failed to fulfil the strict criteria that are required to maintain Blue Flag status, most of them on the island of Corfu.

According to the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, spot checks found that although many of the Greek Blue Flag beaches had clean waters, they also had serious deficiencies in the provision of services to bathers.

Other beaches did not meet criteria relating to cleanliness, safety measures for bathers or they failed to provide proper environmental and coastal area protection measures.

Beaches on Corfu were the worst affected as 23 out of the 30 Blue Flag bathing resorts on the island failed to measure up to in spot inspections this year.

Among major Corfu beaches losing the accolade are the hugely popular holiday resorts at Roda, Sidari, Alykes, Ypsos, Palaiokasistra, Benitses, Messonghi, Agios Gordos, Glyfades, Arillas and Barbati.

Other Greek island beaches that have been stripped of their Blue Flags are located in Lesvos which lost three at Petra, Skala Eressos and Nyfida; Zakynthos which had flags taken down at Alykes and Alykanas and Crete where one beach at Rethymnon failed to come up to scratch.

Other beaches losing their Blue Flag status this summer are located in Kavala, Magnesia, Preveza, Rodopi and Fthiotida.

The Blue Flag award is a voluntary eco-label awarded to beaches across the world and issued by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), which rates beaches on their cleanliness, safety, visiotor facilities, environmental management, water quality and all-round tidiness.

The 2014 Blue Flag beach and marina awards put Greece second in the international league table of 51 countries who have signed up for the scheme to promote safe, clean beaches by the Foundation for Environmental Education.

This year the international committee awarded Blue Flags to 3,372 beaches and 650 marinas worldwide, up on last year's 3,103 beaches and 626 marinas .

The awards are issued annually to participating FEE member countries in Europe, Canada and North Africa. In November, Blue Flags are awarded to beaches in the Caribbean, New Zealand, South Africa and other southern hemisphere countries.

The 2014 Blue Flag beach awards still leave Greece second in the international league table of 51 countries who have signed up for the scheme despite the loss of such a large number.

But it will be a serious blow to the islands' reputation for clean and safe holiday beaches, especially on Corfu which was once top of the league for clean beaches in the Greek islands but has now tumbled almost to the bottom of the table.

For a full list of which Greek beaches have had their Blue Flag status withdrawn you can click here.

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