September 07, 2010

Struth! Beach bums urged to cover up

STRUTH !    

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that whether you want to believe it or not, that bastion of the bikini and skimpy dress, the Mediterranean is under threat.

Because authorities from France's Riviera to Italy in the east and Spain in the west are cracking down on female tourists who invade their streets and pavement caf├ęs dressed only in bikinis. And blokes in nothing more than shorts and budgie-smugglers overhung by gross beer bellies.

Civic authorities in such bikini-littered resorts as Cannes and St Tropez say locals are getting fed-up with tourists who aren't content to just sport their bikinis on the beach, they can't even be bothered donning a shirt, shorts or slacks to cover themselves when forsaking the sun and sand for shopping, sightseeing, and wining and dining.

Even Provence which has its fair share of fully-nude beaches is cracking down on inappropriate off-beach wear, exposed beer bellies, and even simply the sight of hairy chests. And Paris which has long enforced "decency of dress" in its streets is now further tightening its public-dress laws.

As well the Vatican is coming down harder than ever on dress requirements in St Peter's Square, while authorities in Spain have begun warning tourists about wandering Barcelona's streets "in bikinis, shirtless, or showing the affects of alcohol."

Authorities in several countries say its all part of a need to protect human dignity, decency, morality and the young: in Italy recently police were called to speak to a woman bathing topless after another complained that the way the sunbather was applying suntan lotion "was troubling for my sons."

These authorities still generally agree that skimpy dress will always be part of beach culture, but they say it's got to be contained to the beach – and a survey by one newspaper attributed the new thinking to such reasons as new feminist priorities, concerns about skin cancer, a return to old-fashioned modesty, and Europe's growing Muslim population.

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