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Greek beaches take 393 Blue Flags

- by Archimedes

Greek beaches take 393 Blue Flags.

The holiday beaches of Greece and the Greek islands have ranked second in the Blue Flag quality awards for 2013. A total of 393 beaches and nine marinas in Greece and the Greek Islands have picked up the quality "Blue Flag" award, down just one on last year.

The country came second of 49 countries for clean holiday beaches named by an International Jury which has awarded Blue Flags to 3,103 beaches and 626 marinas worldwide this year.

To get a Blue Flag award a beach must meet 32 strict criteria including quality of seawater, cleanliness, organization of the swimming area, safety of bathers and protection of the environment.

Among the leading Greek Islands for Blue Flag beaches are west Crete with 38 awards and Corfu with a total of 35. The holiday island of Rhodes picked 20 clean beach awards while Thassos took 10.

Close behind were Kefalonia with nine, Lefkas with six and Kos with five. Beaches on the mainland coast of Halkidiki landed a total of 35 Blue Flag beach awards in 2013. The whole of Crete won 87 awards, down eight on 2012.

According to the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, international travel agencies and tour firms take special note of Blue Flag beaches when promoting holiday destinations.