Israel's Blue Flag beaches.
(photo credit: Courtesy www.go-israel.com)
Tourists from abroad are already looking for the big Blue Flag when they are
booking beach holidays, and now they can count on nine Israeli beaches to comply
with the international standards developed by the 30-year-old Foundation for
Environmental Education (FEE). Founded in France, FEE certifies nearly 4,000
beaches around the world as good enough to carry the prestigious Blue Flag
The program only started a few months ago in Israel, but
stakeholders are excited about having Blue Flags at their beaches and ports,
says coordinator Orly Babitsky, who works through the Israeli marine education
organization EcoOcean to develop and award Blue Flags in Israel.
big plug for tourism, Babitsky says.
“Internationally, we know for sure
that many travel agents will go into the Blue Flag website and check [for their
customers] which beaches have Blue Flags. If a tourist in Germany wants to go to
the Red Sea and he sees that Aqaba in Jordan has four Blue Flags and Eilat in
Israel has none, he might rather go to the beach with the Blue Flag,” she
To fly a Blue Flag, a beach must meet internationally agreed-upon
standards. Some of them are environmental checks and balances to ensure the
water is clean and safe. In addition, the beach must be free of charge; there
must be public transportation available; it must offer accessibility for people
with disabilities; and it must have recycling bins.
Blue Flag beaches are
subject to regular meetings between at least six defined stakeholders, including
environmentalists, city or town government officials and beach managers.
Permission to keep flying the flag must be reviewed every year and if conditions
change, certification may be dropped until the situation – an oil spill, for
instance – is resolved.
For locals, Blue Flag will definitely boost how
Israelis enjoy one of the last frontiers in free family events, says Babitsky.
“Israel is a coastal country. More than 70 percent of the population is living
near the coast, and the beach has become one of the last places that a family
can go without having to pay for a family day out.”
The 140 Israeli
beaches are also now threatened from coastal development, such as natural gas
pipelines, she adds.
The Blue Flag connects all these elements together
to make the beach and its development a sustainable endeavor for businesses,
green groups, community and government.
Through EcoOcean, the Blue Flag
program in Israel is also working to develop special local standards, such as
limiting the number of plastic beach chairs on the beaches of Tel
But it’s baby steps for now, says Babitsky, who plans to tackle
issues like this and more, season by season, as the culture of Blue Flags get
better defined in Israel.
Where to find Blue Flags in Israel Netanya
take pride in three beaches that won a Blue Flag: Ha’onot Beach
, which can be
accessed from the city’s promenade and is known for its music; Sironit Beach
which provides ample shade, wheelchair access and clearly marked restrooms and
can be reached from the NIS 1 glass beach elevator; and Poleg Beach
, a former
sewage dump transformed into a certified clean beach where motorized sports are
welcome and kite surfers gather to catch the wind and waves.Ashdod
two Blue Flag beaches: The Lido Beach
near the port, which has public
facilities, restaurants and restrooms; and the Yud Aleph Beach
family-oriented destination for locals from diverse backgrounds.Tel Aviv
has two Blue Flag beaches: Metzitzim
– Tel Aviv’s northernmost beach and the
city’s only man-made lagoon, where the cool kids go to play and dogs are
welcome; and Jerusalem Beach
, a favorite among foot travelers, who find it
beautiful, accessible and friendly. This beach has a workout station for
each has one Blue Flag beach: Dado Beach
has restaurants, beach couches, free Wi-Fi, gardens, ample shade, sand, grass
and a mile and a half of promenade.The Shchafim Beach
in Eilat is
located along the promenade between the Dan and Herod hotels. The bustling beach
is a magnet for international travelers and Israelis looking for a little
low-cost escapism. Article printed from ISRAEL21c.org.