A state-distributed leaflet advising Arab tourists to stop haggling over prices, dumping litter and wearing burkas has caused a storm of controversy among residents and public officials in the Austrian ski resort town of Zell am See.
The eight-page guide, titled “Where Cultures Meet,” produced by tourism officials, the police and the Austrian Arabic chamber of trade, includes a number of tidbits and advisories that address local concerns over road safety, littering, dress and behavior.
The pamphlet also advises that prices in Austria were not meant to be negotiated.
According to the Austrian Times, the most controversial debate over the pamphlet was the mention of the burka, with critics saying it would be seen as an attack on Islam. In the end, an advisory against wearing the traditional body cloak went in with an explanation that Austrian women dress as they wish, but typically choose to wear black as a sign of mourning; and that “people from the region are used to looking into the laughing face of others in order to gain a first impression and in order to build trust. With this in mind, locals would be glad when visitors adopted the Austrian mentality.”
Hotel owner Wilfred Holleis even went as far as to say it was a form of discrimination. “I see this as a kind of tourism apartheid,” he said according to the Austrian Times, adding that he had no problem with Arab tourists.
Tourism Apartheid. Is that a Third World problem or a First World problem? Or is it a problem when rich Third Worlders invade the First World, litter, waddle around in Burkas and attempt to bargain for everything.
And how do you ski in a Burka anyway? I don’t know, but if a US ski resort tries to interfere, Holder will come down on them like Karl Marx on a free croissant.
Considering the lengths that some European resort towns are going to in order to attract wealthy Saudi and Kuwaiti tourists, this is a refreshing move.