Women wearing burkas will be fined in Austria
Women who wear full-face veils in public places will be fined £128 by police and will be taken to a police station if they refuse to remove the veil, after the law was passed yesterday.
After a Government spokeswoman confirmed the ban would apply for tourists destinations, including the Zell am See ski resort and Vienna, representatives from across the tourist sector spoke out against the ban.
Andrea Steinleiter, who represents hoteliers in Vienna’s Chamber of Commerce, said: “Has anyone considered the impact this ban would have on tourism?”
I'm worried the burka ban will damage our image
Visitors from the Middle East are extremely valuable to Austria as they spend a lot of money and are one of the fastest growing markets for tourism.
Markus Griessler, head of tourism in the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, said he was worried a burka ban “will damage our image”.
Austria is a major tourist destination
The ban is part of a package of changes agreed by the ruling Social Democratic Party and the centre-right Austrian party in a bid to prevent the collapse of their coalition government.
However, hoteliers do not believe such a directed ban is the way forward.
Harald Bruckner, who owns the Hotel Neue Post in Zell am See ski resort, said: “If the Government needs this ban in order to be re-elected, they should come and tell our Arab guests themselves that they can’t wear the face veil.”
The picturesque ski area attracts about 70,000 visitors from the Gulf States each year.
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Burqa bans across Europe
Thu, December 22, 2016
Several European countries have banned full-face veils since France's controversial law in 2011
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France: Became first country in Europe to ban the burka in April 2011, with a penalty fine of 150 euro
Dieter Fenz, general manager of Vienna’s Marriott hotel, said the number of visitors from Arab countries has risen so much he has employed staff who can speak Arabic during the summer months as well as chefs who can prepare Middle Eastern food for about 150 guests “between midnight and 3am”.
He added: “We never send cleaning staff to their rooms in the mornings as we know these guests like to have a lie-in.”
In Dubai, women ski in a snow dome in burkas
Both the burka and niqab are to be banned in Austria
Mr Fenz said he worries a full-face veil ban will mean “visitors from the Gulf will not feel so welcome here and will decide to visit another country instead”.
And he said about 30 per cent of women visitors from the Middle East wear a burka or niqab and often travel in large family groups of up to 12 people.
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Neos MP and restaurateur Sepp Schellhorn said he believes the ban is giving Austria bad press overseas and accused the foreign minister of creating a “diversion manoeuvre” because he has “failed in the integration question”.
France and Belgium both introduced a burka ban in 2011 and a similar measure is currently going through the Dutch parliament.