A total of 61 beaches were chosen by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful in recognition of their environmental quality and the exceptional seaside experience they offer visitors – two more beaches than last year.
The list includes some of Scotland’s most remote stretches of sand, from St Ninian’s Isle on mainland Shetland to typical bucket-and-spade holiday destination Portobello beach in Edinburgh.
Maidens Beach in South Ayrshire is included for the first time.
The Seaside Award scheme, which also judges factors such as water quality, litter levels and environmental management procedures, has been used as a quality benchmark for Scotland’s beaches for the past 22 years – with St Andrews West Sands in Fife and Gullane Bents in East Lothian winning every year since the awards were first introduced in 1993. The most recent visitor figures show that in 2013, the Year of Natural Scotland, there was a 3 per cent increase in the share of seaside holidays to make up 17 per cent of all holiday trips.
Fergus Ewing MSP, minister for energy, enterprise and tourism, who is due to unveil the awards during a visit to Nairn central beach today, said: “Scotland has some of the best beaches in the world and this highest level of Seaside Awards is evidence of the quality and experience that they offer to visitors and locals alike.
“Our natural environment is an important reason why people visit Scotland. Our beaches play a large part in this, and it is fantastic to see so many gain accolades through the Seaside Awards and the work that beach managers and Keep Scotland Beautiful do in ensuring this.
“We love Nairn beaches and visit them regularly. They and the walks beside them are enjoyed by generations and generations of families.”
Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said that beaches played a role in promoting local economies. Fife boasts the largest number of award-winning beaches, with 14 on Keep Scotland Beautiful’s List.
“Scotland’s beaches have something for everyone to enjoy – excellent environmental quality, bustling promenades, secluded bays and biodiversity-rich shores, therefore, maintaining standards is vitally important.
“Keep Scotland Beautiful is working to improve the quality of our local environment across the country, and we know that beaches are an important asset for local communities and their economies, so it is great to announce so many awards in recognition of excellent management this year”.
Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said many visitors were attracted by Scotland’s wild places, including beaches.
“Recent figures suggested an increase in seaside holidays in Scotland in 2013, so it is clear that visitors really do love to be beside the seaside. This is great news for Scottish tourism and coastal communities and comes on the back of a growing trend towards seaside and rural locations following the success of the Year of Natural Scotland.”