The Belgian coast line only has one beach to please naked beach goers and naturists at present: a 300 metre stretch in Bredene. As the beach is a huge success, some are suggesting an extension. "On summer days the beach is packed", says Arlette Debbaut of the Belgian Federation for Naturists. "However, we do realise that all beaches along the Belgian are busy on hot days. It's not as if we have more rights than people wearing bathing suits. So we leave the decision up to the local municipality."
Politicians taking part in the 14 October local elections confirm that the nudist beach is popular, but are hesitant where an extension of the nudist zone is concerned. "We are in favour of more, but I don't think this is possible in Bredene. It would be at the expense of other beach goers or local residents", says Steve Vandenberghe of the Flemish socialists (SP.A).
Kristof Vermeire of the Christian democrats of CD&V has many question marks. "An extension in Bredene is practically impossible because the adjacent beach is also a very busy one."
Louis Van Belleghem, who heads the liberal list of candidates for Open VLD, goes one step further and puts into question the raison d'être: "We should examine to which extent the nudist beach adds a plus. Maybe there are other priorities to make our beaches more attractive to the public at large."
The leading candidate for the Flemish nationalists of N-VA, Erwin Poppe, is convinced that the nudist beach should stay, but also suggests an extension in Bredene is not to be expected. "This is an exclusive spot at the Belgian coast. The big success should make other municipalities consider taking the same initiative, rather than extending the present beach at Bredene."
However, the former option seems unlikely. Negotiations with a number of other municipalities like Middelkerke, Koksijde and Oostduinkerke don't result in anything.