n April, a total of eight beaches in the area, as well as the community of Nosara, the National University of Nicoya (UNA) and other organizations obtained the Ecological Blue Flag distinction for their development work in 2012.
The award ceremony took place on April 10 in the National Theater in San Jose, where VON was present. Of 114 participating beaches in the entire country, 90 won and eight of them are in this precious area of Guanacaste, including the beaches of Samara, Buena Vista, Punta Islita, Camaronal, Garza, Guiones, Pelada and Ostional.
However, of the beaches awarded in 2011, Samara South lost the flag for not presenting the final report and Carrillo Beach lost it for not having properly registered.Among those awarded, Guiones received the best standing with two stars.
This means that it received a grade of 100 since it has a sanitary quality seal, while the others received one star for a grade of 90 that includes cleaning, but “to become a five-star beach, there must be lifeguards and doctors available all year, handicap access, showers and an established emergency plan,” Darner Mora, the program director, explained to VON.
Laura Ellington, of the Samara Chamber of Tourism and Community Development, indicated that for Samara to continue with the blue flag, “we held several environmental protection discussions in schools and other area groups, we measured the water and carried out different initiatives to clean it more, cleaning campaigns constantly during the entire year, signage to keep it clean and, together with the Public Force, we educated people, giving them bags so the national and foreign tourists would take the garbage away; we set out more garbage cans, but there’s more missing.
There are people that build without septic tanks so the wastewaters remain stagnant.” In the category of Sustainable Homes Communities, Nosara took home two stars. In addition, in the category of Natural Space, the Reserve of the Nosara Civic Association (NCA) obtained three stars for environmental protection.
In the Educational Centers category, the Nicoya campus of the National University (UNA) was also awarded. Aleida Rosales, program coordinator, told VON that all of the other UNA campuses in the country have always had the blue flag, “but for our campus it’s the first time. It has been an immense effort by all of the participants, especially the English department, supported by the administrative and an environmental group called Hormiga.
The students have also gotten involved. Now there are many leaders who have tried to infect the more than 600 students. We have about 65 percent of them trained. They conducted workshops on environmental awareness, waste management and how to reuse [garbage].”
Finally, the regional office of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) in Nicoya received three stars for Climate Change Mitigation, while the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) agency in Samara and the Super Services Agency of Nicoya received one star.