‘Tourists are free to wear what they want’ | Sunday Observer

‘Tourists are free to wear what they want’

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) took measures this week to take down a public notice displayed by the Community Police Unit of Habaraduwa on the dress code of tourists.

“According to the Sri Lankan culture, please dress in an appropriate suit,” the notice read. It depicted a red cross drawn over two foreign women in bikinis.

The incident was brought to the SLTDA’s notice when social media posts circulated on the net condemning the move by the Community Police Unit of Habaraduwa. However, the Authority took measures to remove the notice a day after it received the news.

“The notice was put up with good intention, but without proper vision of the bigger picture,” said Director General of the SLTDA Upali Ratnayake.

The Community Police Unit has displayed the notice after receiving complaints that tourists were visiting public places such as local super markets in beach attire. The incidents have caused much unease among the local community, especially parents of young children, prompting them to request a solution.

“We are certainly against policing of what tourist should wear. They have the freedom to wear what they want,” Ratnayake said.

Sri Lanka has imposed a rule on the dress code for visitors when entering religious places.

The Director General added as a multi-cultural and multi-communal country, Sri Lanka has a customary dress code.

“Tourists are responsibile to respect the local culture. However, we do not restrain them from dressing the way they wish,” he said adding other than bathing areas it is not sensible to wear swimming suits in other public places. Speaking to the Sunday Observer Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga said the notice was not set-up with the approval of the Ministry and therefore it does not represent its vision.

“Tourists have their own way of dressing. It is universal. We can’t stop them from wearing what they wear in other parts of the world. I am not in agreement of this notice,” Minister Amaratunga said.

He added that such restrictions will discourage visitors to the country.