With a delayed tourist season on the horizon, Turkey boast the third-highest number of beaches worldwide with the eco-friendly Blue Flag certification, according to the group handing out the honor.

This year 23 more Turkish beaches got the Blue Flag, an international label from the International Foundation for Environmental Education recognizing high standards of cleanliness, pristine waters, and other parameters, said Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry on Friday.

Turkey has a total of 486 beaches, 22 marinas and seven yacht docks bearing the coveted flag, behind only Spain and Greece, according to the Danish-based group.

The number of Blue Flags in Turkey’s Mediterranean tourist hotspot of Antalya rose to 206, while Mugla has 105, Aydin 35, Izmir 52, Balikesir 31, Samsun 13, and Istanbul two.

Other beaches in Canakkale, Kirklareli, Kocaeli, Duzce, Ordu, Mersin and Van retained the same number of Blue Flag beaches from last year.

The Blue Flag certification is internationally recognized voluntary eco-label awarded to beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators.

In order to qualify for the tag, the Foundation for Environmental Education – an independent non-profit – has set up 33 stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria.

*Writing by Merve Aydogan

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