Beaches cater to the needs of everyone
A beach mobility wheelchair in use at Monte Gordo. Photo: SUPPLIED
This month a selection of Algarve municipalities received Bandeiras Azuis (Blue Flag) awards which commend certain bathing areas as being “Accessible Beaches 2012: A Beach for Everyone”.
Representing the excellence of accessibility, a beach bearing a Blue Flag illustrates that there is necessary equipment available at that location to cater to the needs of any persons with movement difficulties or disabilities.
The Blue Flag award commemorates the achievement of bathing areas throughout Europe such as beaches, rivers and lakes, which are equipped with infrastructures including ramps and wooden walkways that allow for wheelchairs to be pushed along; sanitary aids; adapted bathrooms; beach accessible wheelchairs; reserved parking, and lifeguards, who are aware and prepared for the difficulties and needs of people who are less able-bodied.
The flag also recognizes beaches that fulfil the recommendation to maintain beach safety and water quality, to the highest standards.
With 21 awards, Albufeira is the municipality with the highest number of Blue Flags in the region.
At a presentation on June 6, awards throughout the Albufeira municipality were presented in the presence of the Albufeira Câmara Environmental Councillor, José Sequeira, regional coordinator of the Assocation of European Blue Flags, Élia Cabrita, and the Maritime Authority Lieutenant, Pinto Alves.
The last Albufeira Blue Flag awarded at Praia da Santa Eulália
Beaches now proudly flying the Blue Flag in Albufeira include: Salgados, Galé Oeste, Galé Leste, Manuel Lourenço, Evaristo, Castelo, Coelha, Arrifes, São Rafael, Aveiros, Oura, Oura Leste, Santa Eulália, Maria Luísa, Olhos de Água, Barranco das Belharucas, Falésia-Açoteias, Falésia-Alfamar, Rocha Baixinha Poente e Rocha Baixinha Nascente and Além da Marina.
Raising the last flag of the day on Praia da Santa Eulália, José Sequeira said: “Albufeira has been distinguished nationally for the quality of its beaches, which is recognised through being given the highest number of Blue Flag awards with the quality of gold.”
“This is the result of efforts undertaken by the municipality throughout the entire year, which meet extremely high criteria that look after the local environment, nature, safety, and environmental awareness,” he concluded.
Award ceremonies continued on June 12, when the beach of Pego Fundo in Alcoutim, was awarded with the Blue Flag.
This was followed by presentations in Vila Real de Santo António where four beaches received Blue Flags for the eleventh consecutive year. Beaches recognised include Santo António, Monte Gordo, Manta Rota and Lota.
In the municipality of Loulé, a total of ten beaches have been rewarded for the accessibility and safety that they provide.
The beaches of Vilamoura, Quarteira, Forte Novo, Loulé Velho, Vale do Lobo, Garrão Poente, Garrão Nascente, Almargem, Ancão and Quinta do Lago now all carry the Blue Flag.
A special distinction was also awarded to the beaches of Vilamoura, Quarteira, Forte Novo, Loulé Velho, Vale do Lobo and Garrão Poente, for the exceptional conditions which are far higher than the Blue Flag requirements including assisted bathing sessions at these beaches.
On June 21, flags were also hoisted on four Tavira beaches including Tavira-Mar, Cabanas, Terra Estreita and Barril.
The four selected beaches of Tavira celebrated the occasion in the presence of their Mayor celebrating 25 years of Blue Flag awards in the municipality.
The European recognised awards are hoped by the municipalities to further promote the Algarve as a beach going, holiday location for this year’s summer season.