Skip to main content

Literature review of beach awards and rating systems

Report: TR05/24
Authors: Vinau Cagilaba and Hamish G. Rennie, Department of Geography, Tourism and Environmental Planning, University of Waikato


This purpose of this report is to review available literature about overseas initiatives that promote environmental stewardship of coastal areas. The aim is to identify those that offer opportunities for communities to be involved and participate in the management of the Waikato region's beaches.

This report focuses on beach award and rating system initiatives. These have potential to extend Environment Waikato's community beachcare projects in beach and dune management to involving communities (resident and visiting) in management of the wider coastal area and promoting wider community awareness and engagement in coastal issues. Environment Waikato can learn from experiences elsewhere to determine how effective various initiatives could be in the Waikato context.

Beach award/rating systems attempt to simplify and communicate the complexity of beach environments to meet the needs of particular target audiences. Many of these systems have largely focused on beach tourism/market values. However, there is potential to utilise such systems to further education and awareness of coastal management issues and engage communities and beach users in the sustainable management of coastal environments.

Award/rating systems that focus on attracting tourists tend to have criteria that require higher levels of infrastructure that are more appropriate for urban/resort beaches. Systems that have criteria applicable to less-developed conservation or rural beaches, such as those found in the Waikato, were also developed. These help preserve the more pristine nature of the rural beaches and retain the characteristics valued by beach users and local communities.

There is no 'off-the-shelf' system that could immediately be adopted from overseas for the Waikato region. However, this review highlights useful elements on which to base a system suitable for the region or nationally.

The Waikato has many relatively rural beaches compared with European settings - even popular beaches like Whangamata are relatively rural when compared with the resort style European beaches where comparatively high levels of infrastructure and visitor facilities are present - Waikato beaches are characterised more closely with the rural categorisation of the beach rating systems reviewed. Therefore, rating systems that included some form of categorisation based on the separation of 'rural' from 'urban' beaches would be most appropriate and there is potential to have no rating system applied if that proves the most appropriate at some beaches.

Literature Review of Beach Awards and Rating Systems
(510 kb, 72 seconds to download, 56k modem)

Table of Contents

Executive summary iii
Purpose of report iii
Findings iii
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Purpose and methodology 1
1.2 Structure of the report 1
1.3 Importance of beaches 2
1.4 Waikato beaches 2
1.5 Overview of beach awards and rating schemes 3
1.5.1 Importance of community participation in beach quality schemes 6
2 Beach awards and rating strategies 7
2.1 Accreditation and award schemes 8
2.1.1 Blue Flag campaign 8
2.1.2 Seaside Award 11
2.1.3 Solent Water Quality Awards 12
2.1.4 Healthy Beaches campaign 13
2.1.5 Green Globe Annual Awards 13
2.1.6 Clean Beaches Council's Blue Wave campaign 15
2.1.7 Green Coast Awards 17
2.1.8 Green Flags for Greener Hotels 18
2.1.9 Local Agenda 21 and the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) 19
2.2 Rating systems 20
2.2.1 Costa Rica's rating system 20
2.2.2 Williams et al., checklist 21
2.2.3 University of Glamorgan, UK - beach quality rating scale 22
2.2.4 Beach classification for the Maltese Islands 23
2.2.5 Leatherman's beach rating scheme 24
2.2.6 Beach guides 24
2.3 Competitions 26
2.3.1 Keep Australia Beautiful Clean Beach Challenge 26
3 Summary 27
4 Conclusions 31
References and bibliography 33
Appendix I European Union Bathing Water Quality Directive 37
Appendix II Blue Flag criteria 46
Appendix III Seaside Award criteria 49
Appendix IV National Healthy Beaches campaign - ratings criteria 59
Appendix V(a) Criteria for Blue Wave - resort beaches 66
Appendix V(b) Criteria for Blue Wave - rural beaches 66
Appendix VI Green Coast Award criteria 70
Appendix VII Green Flag criteria 71
Appendix VIII Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE)/Clean Beaches Campaign (CBC) Memorandum of Understanding 72