Sri Lanka tourism department removing ‘improper’ bikini warnings from popular beach

Tourists to Sri Lanka, like those seen here at Hikkaduwa Beach, need not worry about “improper” dress at beaches, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said.
(Eyes Wide Open/Getty Images)

Police in the town of Habaraduwa, in Sri Lanka, recently erected signs warning tourists against wearing “improper” swimwear to the beach — but the country’s tourism department is taking them down.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said Wednesday that the signs, which depicted two women wearing bikinis, along with a large red ‘X’ over their photos, were placed at the popular resort destination of Habaraduwa Beach before police had obtained the correct approvals to do so, the AFP reported.

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The tourism department further stated that “dress code policing is unnecessary” at Sri Lanka’s beaches, and encouraged tourists to dress as usual.

Sri Lanka, however, does require appropriate dress when visiting temples or holy sites, with some providing more modest attire for tourists wearing too little, The Guardian reports.

Any tattoos depicting religious imagery, especially tattoos showing depictions of Buddha, are also considered disrespectful, per the U.S. Department of State, noting that a woman had been deported for just such a tattoo.

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The signs on Habaraduwa Beach seemed to suggest that tourists exercise the same discretion, with a message reading, "According to Sri Lankan culture, please dress in an appropriate suit.”

Sri Lankan officials said they would be removing the police’s signs, but did not confirm when they would all be down.

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News of Habaraduwa Beach’s false bikini ban comes just weeks after authorities in Bali reportedly began to consider banning bikini-clad tourists from taking photos at holy sites.

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