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The New Arab

'Classy' Egyptian resorts go cheap with burkini bans

Egypt's beach resorts have been all but deserted by foreign tourists [AFP]

Date of publication: 30 August, 2016

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France's controversial burkini ban has reached the shores of Egypt with some resorts imposing their own bans, which they say will keep their establishments 'classy' - but also empty.
While France suspended a burkini ban last week after popular outcry, dress restrictions on the Islamic beachwear have found their way onto Egyptian beaches, which have been all but deserted by foreign tourists.

Several beach resorts have issued bans on women wearing burkinis - and hijabs in general - arguing that the attire worn by some Muslim women damages the image of their establishments.

While some resorts told patrons of their new rules verbally, others have posted signs about their decision of dress restrictions and has drawn anger from Egyptian tourists.

"Tourism in Egypt cannot handle such arbitrary decisions," tourist guide Mohammad Shahin told The New Arab.

"Clothes are a personal choice and we're in a Muslim country".

A few days ago, a woman in burkini was ejected from a swimming pool at a resort in the Red Sea town of Ras Sedr, causing public uproar.

The woman said she had been verbally abused by the resort's manager, who ordered his staff to clean the swimming pool with chlorine upon her exit.

The woman also claims that the manager continued to harass her and her friends by cutting electricity to their chalet to force them out of the resort.     

The burkini ban imposed by some resorts is likely to do further damage to the country's battered tourism industry, which has become increasingly dependent on Egyptian tourists.

Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics revealed that only 529,200 foreign tourists visited Egypt in July 2016. This is compared to 911,600 who visited in July 2015 - a 41.9 percent drop in visitors.

France's State Council – the country's highest administrative court - ruled on Friday against the controversial burkini ban, which has triggered a fierce debate in France and sparked critical headlines worldwide.

The court described the measure as a "serious and clearly illegal violation of fundamental freedoms".

It is yet to be seen how Egyptian authorities will respond to the ban imposed by resorts, especially as they have the potential to serve another blow to the country’s fragile tourism industry.

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