While South Korea’s capital city, Seoul, might be a big tourist draw card with plenty of Gangnam Style flair to attract visitors, other parts of the country have had to get more creative when it comes to promoting tourism.
Gangwon Province in the country’s northeast figures nudity might be just the ticket to increasing visitor numbers. It’s planning to open South Korea’s first nude beach in the hopes that tourists will set their sights beyond the capital and venture up north for a bit of skinny dipping.The beach primarily will be aimed at foreigners and may even be open to just overseas visitors initially, as many locals balk at the idea of stripping down at the beach. “Koreans actually love nude beaches when they’re traveling abroad, but the problem with having one within Korea is the fact that Korean society is so interconnected. They won’t be able to comfortably go to a nude beach due to the thought that people they know will find out about it quite easily,” a local reporter told CNN.
Korean tourism officials say they hope to eventually create all sorts of different beaches aimed at families, couples and even pets. They plan to have the first nude beach up and running by 2017.
In tough economic times, some hotels and resorts are ready to try just about anything to revive their sagging fortunes. On May 1, The Fawlty Towers Motel in Cocoa Beach rebranded itself as a “clothing-optional resort” in a bid to revive its sagging fortunes, and according to David Broad, 54, a Welsh national who manages the resort, business is picking up.
But not everyone in Cocoa Beach is thrilled with the new naturist business model. According to Florida Today, a bid by prudish local residents to shut the place down fizzled after local authorities determined that Fawlty Towers had the legal right to go nude.
David Broad spoke to Gadling and gave us the low down on nude resort rules and etiquette, the efforts to sanction Fawlty Towers and other clothing optional resorts, and why the resort allows nudism but not provocative clothing or swinging.How did the place transform from a regular motel into a clothing optional resort?
My best friend who owns the place bought it in 1988. It’s a small mom and pop motel with 32 rooms and over the last few years they’ve been building bigger hotels and they have higher advertising budgets, so business slowed down and we decided to try this.
And business has picked up?
We’ve definitely been busier on the weekends. Weekdays are picking up too now that more and more people are hearing about it. Room rates start at just $79 so it’s quite affordable as well.
On your website, the people pictured are wearing clothes. What’s up with that?
No, it’s just for the photographs; people don’t want to be photographed with their clothes off. It can compromise you, depending on what your job is.
Tell me about the nudist demographic?
We had a gentleman here the other day from Australia who read about the place. Quite a few people from Germany, Switzerland, Canada, everywhere really. It’s all ages. It’s 21 and over only though actually. The average age on the weekend is probably 50-60, but we have some younger people as young as 23 or 24.
That tracks with what I noticed on nude beaches in Greece this summer. Do you think older people are just more comfortable with their bodies and less self-conscious?
I think so. It doesn’t matter if you’re 200 pounds or 500 pounds, no one cares.
Americans are generally a bit more prudish about nudity than in other parts of the world, but tell me about some of the backlash you’ve encountered from the more conservative members of your community?
There’s been some negative comments in the papers here. The city was a little bit up in arms about us in the beginning but they’ve eased off because there’s been no trouble here. Even the police have noticed, there’s been no trouble here. Most of our customers are in their 50s or 60s and they’re in bed by 10 o’clock. The city admitted in the end that we were operating legally and there’s nothing they can do about us.
You have a list of rules on your website and I wanted to ask you about a few of these. The first rule says that the atmosphere must remain non-threatening and non-sexual at all times.
When people are nude they aren’t allowed to do any petting around the pool. You know, touching each other, kissing, nothing like that.
And then it says that swingers and swinging is prohibited. Why is that?
In the privacy of their rooms, they can do what they want. But if they’re out there trying to recruit people we stop that straightaway. We don’t want it to be a swingers resort. We do background checks on everyone before they can come here. It’s to make sure the person has no criminal history so everyone is kept safe.
It also says on your website that provocative clothing is prohibited. Why is that?
We don’t want people parading around in stockings and stuff like that. It’s a proper naturist place. Proper naturists don’t walk around in see-through negligées and things like that.
So it’s OK to be naked but you can’t wear a see-through negligée or a thong?
It’s a hard one to explain. It’s like drawing attention to yourself, whereas if everyone is nude then no one is drawing attention to themselves.
I see that you have a gym as well. Do people work out nude?
No, the gym is half mile away and you have to wear clothes there. The clothing optional part is just the hotel, the tiki bar and the pool area. It’s all very private and secluded, no one can see in here at all.
Do you get some first timers who are unaware of nude resort etiquette?
Oh yes, but everyone is comfortable. Some start apprehensive, but everyone is friendly and welcoming. We limit cellphone use and cameras to make sure people aren’t taking photos at the pool.
When you get very attractive women there, are the men able to contain themselves?
Everyone behaves themselves. No one is judged.
Does the staff go nude as well?
No, no, we have to be dressed according to the state law, unfortunately. Otherwise, they classify us adult entertainment.
What do you want America to know about your resort and other clothing-optional places?
It’s very private. No one gets exposed to this if they don’t want to be. We don’t drag people in here. People come on their own free will and it’s not thrown in anyone’s face. We don’t have a sign outside reading “Nudist Hotel” or anything like that.
Apparently, gourmet cheese, good beer and the Green Bay Packers aren’t the only things attracting visitors to Wisconsin. In fact, the state boasts one of the country’s largest non-coastal nudist beaches, Mazo Beach, which brings in about 70,000 naturists per year. Unfortunately, the hot spot is currently facing opposition from protesters, politicians and conservative locals.
Recently, numerous arrests have been made in the surrounding forests, as officers have caught people having sex outdoors. Additionally, problems with sex and drugs on the beach are also causing outrage. Well-behaved frequenters of Mazo Beach now fear the end of their clothing-optional haven, despite years of cooperating with the state.
Although it is illegal in Wisconsin to “publicly and indecently” expose one’s genitals, many state and county officials have argued simply being nude at Mazo Beach is not enough to write a citation. That is, unless there is some kind of lewd contact. Despite pastor-led protests and Republican lawmakers attempting to ban the beach, it has remained.
To help get Mazo Beach out of its current position, the area has added extra security to patrol the beach. Losing the nudist-friendly site would be devastating to many who think of it as a second home.
For Claudette Richards, 58, a lifetime visitor to Mazo Beach, it is the place where she was able to come to accept her body, even after her mastectomy. She says, “It’s a place to be who I am.”
And from the, “OMFG” department comes this information, via press release: The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) “encourages wholesome family nude recreation [“Nakations”] in appropriate settings such as designated nude beaches and AANR-member resorts, or around the home. Experts have attested that children raised in a social nudist environment grow up with a stronger sense of self-esteem, free of many of the body image issues that trouble the average textile youth.”
I’m most disturbed by the terms, “textile youth” and “Nakation.” I’m not going to touch those with a ten-foot…never mind. Why I’m so skeeved out by the naked family vacay thing is a bit more convoluted. I like to think that I’m pretty open-minded, and it’s true we’ve become a nation of body dysmorphic, eating-disordered freaks…when we’re not morbidly obese, that is.
I have no problem going topless on European beaches, and have often bemoaned the puritanical leanings of Americans when it comes to censorship with regard to nudity on television and in magazines. I just feel that it’s potential fodder for a therapist’s couch when children and their parents frolic about sans textiles after the toddler stage has passed; I also believe that public nudity past toddler-hood is something that should only be done by consenting adults.
I’ve been to a nude beach twice. Maybe it’s because I didn’t holiday in the buff with my family (my eyes, my eyes!) as a child, but I can tell you two things my nude sunbathing didn’t accomplish: providing me with a stronger sense of self-esteem, and freeing me of the body image issues that have troubled me ever since I was an average, deprived textiled youth.It could have something to do with the fact that the first time I went, it was with an exhibitionist Australian boyfriend who was a professional athlete. It was (as we discovered) a gay beach, meaning most of the men were totally ripped. I’d also been on a month-longfood writing assignment, so I wasn’t feeling very good about my body. And I was covered – literally – with mosquito bites I’d gotten several days prior on a camping trip. This included my ass, because…let’s just say that women have a tougher time peeing in the great outdoors than men.
So, I wasn’t exactly feeling empowered about this experience, but I forced myself to do it. Just so I could say my boyfriend and I went to a gay nude beach in Australia. The second time, I was by myself in Santa Cruz and it was all good until some freak threw his towel down three inches away from my toes. I haven’t taken my clothes off in a public place in broad daylight since.
Clearly, I’m the one with the issues, because according to the AANR, the “2011 Portrait of the American Traveler tells us that at least 53 million people are interested in visiting nudist resorts or nude beaches. This confirms the increasing public understanding that family nudity is wholesome, natural and comfortable after the first daunting but liberating plunge.”
I guess the issue really comes down to, “Is this behavior hurting anyone?” and that’s open to debate. Personally, I’m not too cool with kids being, uh, exposed to naked strangers. I agree that teaching children to have a healthy sense of esteem about their bodies is important (as important, say, as feeding them a well-balanced, nutritious diet and encouraging them to be physically active and play outdoors), but I think there are plenty of ways to learn that without going on Nakations. Or, for the cash-strapped family, “Staycation Nakations.”
One thing I will say about clothing-optional travel: it saves money on baggage fees and laundry. The downside is explaining how you got melanoma.
The local government says it has received numerous complaints about bathers baring all at the eight-mile-long beach. The spot is a favorite for families and attracts more than a million visitors a year, most of who wear bathing suits. There have been complaints about nudists “approaching” non-nudists, and also reports of inappropriate behavior.
The local government has put up signs forbidding nudity and threatens to prosecute violators. However, nudist organizations have pointed out that being naked in public is not illegal in the UK and that the local council’s ruling is thus illegal.
Nudism is a legal gray area in the UK. While simply getting naked isn’t a criminal offense, nudists have been prosecuted for using their nudity “to harass, alarm or distress others.” This rule is vague enough to be applied to a wide range of cases and of course depends on the sensitivity of the person making the complaint.
Nudism seems to cause controversy every year in the UK. One nudist hiker in Scotland has been jailed repeatedly, with his latest sentence being for 21 months. A nudist B&B in Staffordshire, England, has caused many neighbors to complain.
What do you think of nudism in public places? Should it be allowed? Would you go to a nude beach? Tell us what you think in the comments section!
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons. This photo actually shows Haulover Beach, an official nudist beach in Florida.