Tourists planning on visiting Zanzibar have been warned not to go out in public naked or scantily clad. Doing so may result in pricey fines for tour operators and guides.
According to Lela Muhamed Mussa, Zanzibar’s tourism minister, there have recently been incidences of public nudity on the conservative Muslim-majority island, which led to her having to reiterate the rules.
Fines will be given for those who break the rules, however rather than being incurred by the tourists, they will be incurred by tour guides and operators whose responsibility it is to enforce the rules with their patrons.
“Nowadays many tourists in Zanzibar are seen in public areas totally naked,” said Mussa. “If you are a tour guide, and you have a tourist who is indecently dressed in a public place, you will be fined between $700 to $1,000, depending on the severity of the issue. An operator found in a public area with a scantily dressed tourist will be penalized between $1,000 to $2,000.”
“When in public places here in Zanzibar, tourists have to cover their bodies from the shoulder to the lower part of the stomach, and to the knee. There’s nothing new here. It’s just a reminder of the existing law.”
“We respect the differences that we have from different nations and different people,” Mussa said, “but it is the responsibility of visitors to understand the cultural practices and code of conduct of Zanzibar before they come into the country.”
As stated in the Code of Conduct found on the Travel Tips page of the Zanzibar Tourism website, “Swimsuits and skimpy dresses are restricted at public areas, but allowed at hotels and resort premises. Nudity on the beach is not acceptable.”
Fatma Karume, a lawyer in Zanzibar, however, said that public nudity by tourists is not the norm. “We’ve been a tourist destination for decades. Most tourists who come to Zanzibar respect the culture,” said Karume.
“What I’ve seen is that most tourists cover themselves with scarves when wearing shorts. I’ve never seen a tourist walking around Stone Town in a bikini. Of course, on the beach, they wear bikinis. No one minds.”