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Assessing the Utility of Beach Ecolabels for Use by Local Management

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Ecolabels for beaches have been around since 1985 and have grown rapidly over the past decade. However, effects from ecolabels on beach ecology and local coastal cultures are unknown. This study reviews the literature on tourism ecolabels and environmental certification for beaches, analyzes the criteria of the most prominent beach ecolabel, and identifies considerations and proposes recommendations for local management that address sandy beach ecology and local cultures. The Blue Flag ecolabel is evaluated for how well the program criteria balance tourism, the processes of sandy beach ecology, and accommodate for local cultural values. This Blue Flag's criteria leave out protecting sandy beach ecology and fail to incorporate local community values in program design. The results of the study include three areas that beach managers need to consider for better understanding the utility of beach ecolabel programs: opportunity costs of participation and consequences of losing certification; evaluate investment in multiple certifications; and identify potential changes from the implementation of ecolabels.
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Keywords: Blue Flag; beaches; ecolabels; human dimensions; sandy beach ecology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Marine Affairs, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Publication date: 2008-10-01

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