THE number of blue flag beaches on the Costa del Sol has decreased by a third.
From Torrox in the east to Casares in the west, Spain’s most southern coast now has just 17 blue flag sand strips (see below for the winners and losers).
That is compared to 25 last year, marking a 32% decrease in the number of areas awarded the prestigious certification.
It also means that a third of Andalucia’s 18 blue flag losers are located in Malaga, while the region comprises over half of the national reduction of 28.
Beaches that have lost blue flags
MANILVA (1 beach)
La Rada and El Padron
Los Boliches and Fuengirola
RINCON DE LA VICTORIA (1)
Torre de Benagalbon
Despite the 4% fewer blue flag sites than in 2018, Spain still has 669, putting it top worldwide of the list compiled by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
The Association of Environmental and Consumer Education has blamed illegal building, including some beach bars, for the shocking news.
Blue flag beaches in Malaga 2019
TORROX (1 beach)
Benajarafe, Torre del Mar and La Caleta Paseo
Fuente de la Salud and Torrebermeja-Sta.Ana
La Cala – Torreon; El Bombo and Calahonda I (Royal Beach – La Luna)
Casablanca, El Faro and San Pedro de Alcantara (Guadalmina)
El Cristo and Arroyo Vaquero
Secretary of State for Tourism, Isabel Oliver, claimed the smaller number of blue flags set to fly on Spanish beaches from June, ‘is not a drama’.
She added: “The requirements are very demanding and show concern for the preservation and care of these beaches.
“The objective is for Spain to be recognized as a great destination for responsible tourism by both visitors and residents.”
Andalucia lost more blue flags for its beaches than any other Spanish region and now has 98, behind Valencia with 150, Catalunya (120) and Galicia (119).
Quality, safety, environmental education, services and management, are the criteria used by the FEE to judge beaches.