“We don’t care about skirt lengths". Dress code may disrupt tourist season in Dagestan
The coronavirus pandemic has made international tourism impossible for most citizens of Russia, who are instead turning to resorts in the motherland. Some are turning their eyes towards Dagestan, a Russian Federal subject in the North Caucasus.
If you believe the Russian tourism companies, the area boasts both mountainous and spa resorts, as well as beaches on the Caspian Sea. But the religious authorities in Dagestan are not waiting for the influx of tourists before preemptively telling guests what to wear and how to behave in the republic.
The first requests to “respect the mentality” of Dagestan were voiced in mid-June, when the muftiate published an announcement coinciding with the beginning of beach season. In the statement, the chairman of the muftiate, Shamil Alikhanov, mentioned complaints from local residents about the inappropriate dress of tourists in the area.
Representatives of the tourism industry surveyed by Caucasian Knot were bewildered by the request, as they said the newcomers were already sympathetic to local customs. Many said the muftiate’s statement was dangerous for tourism.
“Customers have only just started arriving, including people from out of town. We don’t care about skirt lengths, we need to earn money for our families…Let the muftiate make recommendations in their own area, they’re not the ones feeding me and my workers”, said an administrator of one of the many Aminat restaurants in the area.
Tourists share the same opinion. One of them said that he was already aware that it is better not to wear shorts in Dagestan.
“But if they’re going to be very strict about who should wear what, no one will come. I’ve been to Turkey, Tunisia and other muslim countries where no one dictates what the dress code is to tourists”, noted one tourist who introduced himself as Mikhail.
The muftiate’s announcement did not clarify exactly what restrictions may apply to tourists. Some are afraid that they may be considering a ban on swimsuits and suggesting women swim in long dresses.
The Caucasian Knot reports that there are 127 hotels, 51 tourism agencies, 23 spas and 47 guest houses operating in the republic. Dagestan has not yet recovered from the coronavirus epidemic, and the quarantine is officially still in effect, and opening hotels is not yet permitted.
But tourists are still traveling to the area and staying in apartments or with relatives. At the end of June, local media sources reported that the capital city of Makhachkala is one of the most popular domestic tourist destinations in Russia.
It is not the first time that the “morality warriors” have raised their swords in Dagestan – two years ago, they also disrupted several concerts and festivals in the republic.