Wearing a burqa in Berlin, Germany
Wearing a burqa in Berlin, Germany
Katja Riedel

MUNICH — The conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) party in the southern state of Bavaria wants Germany to ban the burqa. But the toughest opposition to the proposal may come from what is otherwise a natural CSU ally: local business leaders.

Should a ban be implemented similar to the one France approved in 2010, it would also apply to female tourists from Arab countries, which businesses especially in the state capital of Munich have grown to count on as top customers, says Bernd Ohlmann, head of the Bavarian trade association.

Ohlmann points to the consequences of the burqa ban in France, which led some Arab tourists to avoid French destinations. Indeed, a steep increase over the past five years of Arab tourists in Germany, and in Munich and its environs in particular, can be traced to the French ban.

Nearly 40% of the money spent by Arab tourists in Germany is spent in Munich. On average, Arab tourists spend 367 euros per day and stay for around 12.5 nights. That's nearly 4,600 euros per visit — multiply that by 1.4 million, which is the estimated number of Gulf states tourists who arrived at Munich's airport in 2014.

Some, however, point to research by the management consultancy company BBE, which found in 2012 that two-thirds of female Arab guests change into Western clothes as soon as they disembark at the airport.

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