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More Blue Flags have been awarded to the Isle of Wight’s beaches compared to 2012.

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In total, the Island now has four Blue Flag beaches compared to three last year as well as 13 Seaside Awards which is two more than in 2012. This means the Isle of Wight, with 17, has the highest amount of awards in the whole country.

The prestigious Blue Flag scheme and Seaside Awards – which were previously known as Quality Coast Awards – are run by the Keep Britain Tidy Group.

Sandown and Ventnor beaches have retained their Blue Flags while Yaverland and Colwell have been awarded flags – the latter being given the award for the first time in over two decades.

All four beaches have also been given Seaside Awards along with Cowes, East Cowes, Springvale, Seagrove, Gurnard, Ryde East, St Helens, Totland and Shanklin giving the Isle of Wight 17 awards in total – four more than last year.

The total of 17 awards means the Isle of Wight is once again the number one region in the south east for award winning beaches, with Torbay in second with 14 awards and Thanet in third with 13.

Councillor Shirley Smart, cabinet member responsible for tourism and economy said; “The Isle of Wight has again shown it is the best in the region for top quality beaches and also number one in the country.

“The criteria required to meet both the Blue Flag and Seaside Award have been made even harder and the standards are now exceptionally strict. A lot of hard work goes in to maintaining our beaches and this is shown with both Yaverland and Colwell being awarded Blue Flags this year.

“This is excellent news with the main summer tourism season just around the corner.”

David Thornton, chief executive of Visit Wight said; “It’s always a great boost to receive news like this. This is especially timely given that we are raising the Island’s profile as the place where visitors can come to this year to not only walk on our beaches, but also walk with dinosaurs!

“The Isle of Wight has always been perceived as a popular seaside holiday destination, and this just shows how much quality we have to offer on our Island to our visitors.”