Thursday, April 7, 2011

Parador Resort & Spa Awarded Ecological Blue Flag For Third Consecutive Year

Parador Resort & Spa is recognized yet again for outstanding commitment to the environment for which we were issued the highest 5 Leaf sustainability rating by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) in 2010. Now, for the third consecutive year we have been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag acknowledging our environmentally-responsible policies and achievements, outstanding green business practices and ongoing dedication towards preserving and protecting Costa Rica’s fragile eco-system.

Costa Rica’s Blue Flag Ecology Program, a joint venture between several government and non-governmental organizations, including the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, the National Water and Sewer Service, Ministry of Public Health Ministry of Environment, and National Tourism Chamber, amongst others, is associated with the international Blue Flag Program. Initiated in France in 1985, the Blue Flag Program was conceived to improve and monitor sustainable development at beaches and marinas through strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety.

Owned and operated by the independent non-profit organization Foundation For Environmental Education (FEE), the European-based voluntary awards program increased its scope in 2001 to become a globally active organization which today includes participants in 41 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Blue Flag is awarded to over 3450 beaches and marinas annually, with those numbers increasing each year as more countries ally themselves with this environmental group.

Here in Costa Rica, the goal is similarly to improve the safety and cleanliness of the nation’s beaches while also educating and enlisting the allegiance of coastal communities in environmentally-correct actions.

Administered by the National Blue Flag Commission, Costa Rican beaches are stringently evaluated on the quality of the ocean and the drinking water, waste disposal, sanitary facilities, signage, tourist safety, environmental education and involvement of the community in beach maintenance. Only beaches with a 90% score succeed in acquiring a distinction and receiving the Blue Flag. Beaches awarded the Blue Flag are then monitored on monthly basis for sustained maintenance.

The success of the Costa Rica Blue Flag Ecological Program has led to its expansion into non-coastal communities and further inclusion and recognition of companies in both the tourist and private sector. Currently, there are six categories under which the Blue Flag is awarded here.

The most recent award ceremony took place on April 17th at the Presidential House and was presided over by Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla. Other top officials were also on hand to honor the recipients, which included 67 beaches, 40 communities, 426 educational institutions, 36 natural protected areas, as well as businesses whose sustainability practices meet the rigid standards.

For the green-minded visitor, it is easy to find and endorse Blue Flagged destinations and establishments in Costa Rica. Just look for the azure flags proudly signposting the accomplishment.

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