THE number of beaches recognised for their water quality and cleanliness has reached a record high.

A total of 61 sandy spots have won seaside awards handed out by Keep Scotland Beautiful, which credits safety and environmental management procedures.

Among those on the list are St Andrews West Sands in Fife and Gullane Bents in East Lothian. Dornoch Beach, Millport in Ayrshire and Coldingham in the Scottish Borders have also been recognised while Maidens Beach in Ayrshire is on the list for the first time.

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Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said recent figures showed an upturn in seaside holidays being taken by tourists. He added: "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.

"In this year, when Scotland welcomes the world, it is more important than ever to have our stunning coastlines in tip-top condition if we want to continue attracting visitors."

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing MSP said: "Scotland has some of the best beaches in the world - from traditional bucket-and-spade resorts to remote rural locations - and this highest level of Seaside Awards is evidence of the quality and experience that they offer to visitors and locals alike."