In a recent survey conducted about Europe’s Cleanest Waters, which includes beaches as well, Cyprus and Luxemboug were rated as excellent with a 100% record year on year. The swimming sites deemed “excellent” rose by 3.6 percentage points to 82.6 percent as Luxembourg and Cyprus, with 112 coastal swimming spots, got the best marks. Blue Flag has also awarded 57 of Cyprus’ beaches with the prestigious accolade, ranking the island on the top of the EU for ten consecutive years, according to Agriculture and Environment minister Nicos Kouyialis. The Blue Flag is a certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach or marina meets its standards in water quality, safety, environmental education and information, the provision of services and general environmental management criteria. Kouyialis said that keeping beaches to high environmental standard is a top priority for his ministry. “Our goal is growth, creating new jobs, improving our tourist product and expanding into diving and fishing tourism by creating more artificial reefs like the one in Polis Chrysochous,” said the minister, adding that he is optimistic that it will “improve the income of people near the sea and attract more visitors.” Kouyialis noted that Cyprus is the first EU country that complied 100 per cent with the strictest criteria for water quality. In 2013, 112 bathing waters were tested in Cyprus, all coastal. A total of 967 samples were taken throughout the year – nine samples from the same waters on average. All were classified as ‘excellent’.