Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism has backtracked on their previous decision to allow women into pools and beaches with Burkini. The ministry authorised the hotels and resorts to decide whether they want to allow or refuse women wearing Burkini from entering their pools and beaches.
On Friday, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism issued an order that was distributed by the Egyptian Hotel Association, forcing hotels to welcome women wearing the body-covering swimsuits, as long as their material is similar to a regular swimming suit.
Moreover, the ministry’s earlier decision forced the resorts that have multiple swimming pools to allocate one of them to veiled women. The decision came in response to complaints received by the ministry under the claim of religious discrimination.
Although Egypt is a country where Islam is the dominant religion and where many of its women are veiled, the controversy of wearing a Burkini on beaches and pools in resorts has been ongoing for several years. In July, a woman was allegedly forced out of North Coast’s Hacienda Bay for wearing a Burkini at the popular beach resort.
The first decision was a step that hasn’t been thoroughly studied, and it shouldn’t have taken place, said Ali Al-Halawany, the head of the Chamber of Red Sea Hotel Facilities. He added that hotels and resorts should have the authority to decide whether to allow Burkini or ban it based on the tourism season and the type of tourists they receive.
The decision came during a tough time for the tourism sector, with the decline of foreign tourism, from 14.7m in 2010 to 5.4m in 2016. Currently, many resorts and hotels are dependent on domestic tourism, making up around 59% of current hotel occupancy rates.
The debate about Burkini has been ongoing in many countries, such as France, where in 2016 Cannes’ mayor decided to ban the swimwear; however, the ban was overturned later by a French court.