Blue Flag Ecological Program

Among its many achievements, the program received the national prize for “Contributions to a Better Quality of Life” by the Ombudsman’s Office, of the public body, 2003.

Blue Flag Ecological Program

The Blue Flag Ecological Program was created in response to the imminent dangers of beach pollution, its repercussions on public health and the tourism industry. It has reached its twelfth year of operations, with a marked increase that began in 2002.

The Blue Flag Ecological Program is an interinstitutional effort, made official through the Executive Decrees # 25626-96, Decree # 31610 S-MINAE-TUR and the Decree # 31648 MEP-MINAE-S-TUR, from February 9, 2004, which included participation from the Costa Rica Tourism Institute (ICT), National Water and Sewer Service (AyA), Public Health Ministry (MS), Environment Ministry (MINAE), Education Ministry (ME) and the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR).  
Besides being a program that has managed to coordinate efforts between those institutions involved, it also allows citizen participation. In order to participate, the Pro BAE committee standards must be adhered to within the participating communities and local schools, since these institutions implement the program’s lines of action which the award’s granting depends on.

The Ecological Blue Flag is granted annually to those communities and local schools that have reached, at a minimum, 90% of that which is required by the end of the year. In the case of coastal communities that belong to the Blue Flag program, additional efforts will be recognized for two and now even four stars if they make efforts in other considered areas to achieve overall development, within the proposed focus.

As part of its BAE program objectives that recently began within the coastal communities, and those maritime areas affected by institutions, the Costa Rica Tourism Institute defines program goals that designate personal technicians and economic resources to support the initiative and take on related field work in order to verify that the program’s promoted lines of action are fulfilled by the communities.

Since the beginning, the ICT, together with the National Water and Sewer Service (AyA), regarding that related to BAE – Coastal Communities, have assumed follow-up and other responsibilities for the efforts made by beach institutions that have signed up for the program.  For example, the AyA technical team is responsible for sea-water analysis, human water consumption, and coastal quality with respect to water and industrial waste. These are carried out by means of laboratory tests, while following microbiological procedures and parameters previously established. The ICT’s technical team is responsible for inorganic waste, trash cans, environmental education, security and administration, and that related to base parameters.   

Requisites to participate in the program

Costa Rican coastal communities looking to join the program shall submit a request by means of the registration ballot and the candidate questionnaire, which must be sent to program’s National Commission from December to February.

Criteria for Coastal Communities:

The following aspects will be evaluated:

Microbiological quality of the ocean’s water
Quality of potable water
Quality of coastal sanitation areas:
-----------Garbage and garbage containers
-----------Treated industrial waste
-----------Treated run-off water       
Environmental education
Security and administration


One star:
If the criteria achieved is between 90% - 100%
Two stars:

If the criteria achieved is 100%

Motorized vehicle restrictions

Horse and domestic animal restrictions brought in by visitors or locals

Maritime current signals if they exist

Three stars:

Complying with that under Star two

Security and rescue teams during High season

Regulatory plan or plan of action regarding conservation zones

Four Stars:

Complying with that under star three

Easy access and security measures for those with disabilities like showers and public sanitation

Separation and Recycling of solid waste

Constant Security and Rescue measures

Local emergency committee   

Member of the “Sanitary quality seal” program


Costa Rica has the most beatiful natural beaches, many of them have recieved the Blue Ecologic Flag Award, that identifies the beaches where the local community works and makes a big effort to mantain them in the best conditions for the enjoyment of the tourist.

The "Blue Flag" program provides strong incentives to hotels, local tourism boards, and coastal communities, to work together to protect Costa Rica's beaches. This program is an adaptation of a highly successful program of the same name, launched in Europe in 1985.

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