By Ellen Zoe Golden
At long last, with the efforts of many community organizations, local groups and town members, the Tamarindo was awarded the Ecological Blue Flag on June 21 in a ceremony that took place in San José. On hand to receive the Blue Flag were Jordi Rivera, the head of the Tamarindo Blue Flag Committee, along with Hernán Imhoff, President of Tamarindo Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (CCTT).
“It has been really hard to get the Blue Flag,” said Rivera before the ceremony took place. “First we needed a team of people committed to work hard, and that has been possible thanks to CCTT. Then we needed to put together all the efforts of all the organizations and businesses who are working for a better community, and I want to thank all of them, especially: Hotel Cala Luna, Asada Tamarindo, ADI Tamarindo, Salvemonos, Surf Rider Foundation, Cepia, Clean Wave, Municipalidad de Santa Cruz and Bomberos de Costa Rica.”
The Blue Flag, which Tamarindo received as a community, focuses on the most important aspects of the area, and is overseen by a national Committee and various other country-wide organizations. The main sections looked at for the Blue Flag are drinkable water, protected green areas, solid waste, recycling, street cleaning, liquid waste, road signs, environmental education, public health, water springs protection and security.
Riera stressed the efforts of the town’s improvements as a key reason for choosing the community category. There was a lot of time in meetings, and money spent by businesses and neighbors, often times on top of the day-to-day running of their own commercial enterprises.
What does it mean for Tamarindo to now have the Ecological Blue Flag?
“The Blue Ecological Flag is a sustainability certification, and having it is important for two reasons,” explained Rivera. “We need to take care of our planet, and the Blue Flag shows that we are a community who takes care of it. Second, we are a touristic destination, and everyone who lives in Tamarindo works for tourism directly or indirectly. Today the market trends and consumer behaviors show that sustainability issues are very important when deciding a product or service, and that’s another reason why we must focus on improving the sustainability of our business and community. The Blue Flag shows that we are going in this direction, and we care about this tendency. It can be applied by all the businesses of the community, and this is the only way to continue being an international tourism destination.”
Although the certification is now in hand, the work of the Tamarindo Blue Flag Committee is not finished. First, there will be an official town event for the raising of the flag. In addition, Blue Flag efforts are ongoing, and they are already working for the next one, “because we should apply every year to keep it up to date, improving all the works done, as well as focusing on new ones,” said Rivera.
The Blue Flag can be applied for in different categories: agricultural business, schools, construction, climate change, sustainable homes, municipality, beach, community health and many others. Currently, outside of Tamarindo town’s Blue Flag, the Asada de Tamarindo has the Blue Flag, the Beach of Punta del Madero also has one. In the past, the beach of Tamarindo had the Blue Flag, but it expired, and Rivera said he welcomes any organization that wants to take the responsibility for getting it again.
“That would be another big step for our community, and commitment for a better planet,” he concluded.