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French burka ban sees rise in overseas shoppers in London

London retailers are benefitting from the French burka ban as more Middle Eastern visitors are said to be heading to the capital instead of Paris.

According to the Independent, department stores Liberty and Selfridges have seen a 45% and 40% increase in international visitors respectively over 2011 compared to last year.

Since April this year it has been illegal in France to wear a face-covering veil or burka and, anyone breaking the law, faces a €150 (£132) fine.

Jace Tyrell, director of the New West End Company, said that the Middle Eastern market, in particular the United Arab Emirates, is crucial for the West End.

“When I was in the region in April, it was clear from feedback from the travel trade that what had happened in Paris was having an effect. London is seen as welcoming , friendly and accommodating,” he said.

Middle Eastern shoppers spend an average of £1,800 per shopping trip compared to £120 by UK shoppers and UK retailers are expected to receive a further boost from the forthcoming pre-Ramadan period, traditionally a busy time for retailers popular with international shoppers.

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