Did you know that the beach at Garza Blanca Preserve Resort and Spa in Puerto Vallarta has the international Blue Flag accreditation? This means that Garza Blanca’s beach is recognized as environmentally healthy per the strict standards of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
The FEE is a nonprofit non-governmental organization that started in Europe but is now a worldwide organization. The Blue Flag is a trademark used by the FEE to indicate that beaches and marinas around the world are environmentally friendly, clean and safe. The Blue Flag program started in France in 1985, grew through Europe starting in 1987, and began expanding outside of Europe in 2001. Today, the Blue Flag program has become a global program with 44 countries participating. The Blue Flag has become a highly respected and recognised eco-label working to bring together the tourism and environmental sectors at local, regional and national levels in cities throughout the world.
Mexico has a total of 20 Blue Flag beaches. Eight of them are located in the Puerto Vallarta area, making Puerto Vallarta the tourist destination with the most accredited beaches in Mexico.
Garza Blanca Beach earned its Blue Flag in 2017. Blue Flag accreditation is a voluntary program with numerous strict requirements in several categories. Here is a short summary of some of the requirements. You can learn more at http://www.blueflag.global
The Blue Flag program requires that beaches achieve Excellent bathing water quality. The bathing water quality standards have been based on the most appropriate international and national standards and legislation. Blue Flag beaches must reach the water quality standard set by the Blue Flag program, or the standard set by their own municipality, whichever is higher. Water samples must be taken every 31 days from the areas of the beach with the highest concentration of swimmers, as well as at water inflow sites such as river mouths. The water samples must be drawn by an independent technician, and must be tested for chemicals and microbes by an independent laboratory with national or international accreditation.
In addition to testing for microbes and chemicals, there must be no visible pollution in the water, such as oil film on the surface of the water, or plastic containers floating in the water. If the water is not clean, the beach can lose its Blue Flag for the season. Garza Blanca is committed to keeping our beach and water clean to the highest standard. This is one of the most important criteria for earning a Blue Flag, and this is also one of the points that visitors to Garza Blanca care most about.
Environmental Education and Information
A permanent display of information relevant to the site in terms of biodiversity, ecosystems and environmental phenomena is required in order to receive the Blue Flag. This display must also give information about the Blue Flag program itself. Look for the Blue Flag board at Garza Blanca!
The Blue Flag program requirements state that if specific sensitive natural areas (including Marine Protected Areas) exist near a Blue Flag beach, it is strongly recommended that some of the educational activities address these sensitive natural areas. In our case, Garza Blanca Beach is located near the natural monolithic granite rock formations of Los Arcos, which are natural habitats of local flora and fauna, and thus the area is a government protected marine park. We have many educational programs for children, so kids can learn about the environment here in Puerto Vallarta while on vacation at Garza Blanca.
Bathing water quality information must be displayed on the Blue Flag information board. The information must also clearly explain how the water quality results relate to the imperative criteria for water quality, with specific reference to sampling frequency and the conditions under which Blue Flag status can be withdrawn.
In order to be a member of the Blue Flag program, the local authority or beach operator should establish a beach management committee. The beach management committee should ensure compliance with all environmental management criteria, including Coastal and Marine Protected Area requirements if appropriate, as well as all environmental laws and regulations in the jurisdiction. The committee should consist of relevant stakeholders such as hotel manager, beach manager, lifeguard, educational representative, local authority representative, local NGO, or other stakeholders.
The beach must be clean. Part of environmental management is ensuring the sand itself as well as all surrounding areas are free from trash and debris. Beach cleaning may be mechanical or manual, but must be conducted with respect for local plants and animals who call the beach home. Waste disposal bins must be available at the beach in adequate numbers, and regularly maintained. Recycling options should be available at any beach where local municipalities have recycling.
Safety and services
At Blue Flag beaches, safety is one of the primary concerns. Lifeguards must be present and easily recognizable, must be trained in life saving procedures, and must have public rescue equipment and first aid kits.
A beach must be accessible to all (regardless of age, gender, political views, religion, or physical ability), and it is preferable that free access be granted to the public, in order to be eligible for Blue Flag accreditation. Some beaches may charge for parking, but the charge should be less than 30 US dollars. It is strongly recommended that Blue Flag beaches have access to the beach and restrooms for the physically disabled.
Garza Blanca Preserve Resort and Spa in Puerto Vallarta takes great pride in our participation in the Blue Flag program, and we know that our guests appreciate our efforts to make our beach one of the cleanest, safest, and most accessible in the Banderas Bay Area!