Anti-capitalist protesters have called on Germans to take advantage of a deeply discounted public transport pass to “storm” a holiday island frequented by the rich and famous.
Sylt, an island off Germany’s North Sea coast, is seen as one of the most sought-after destinations by buyers of the €9 per month ticket introduced from June 1.
The organizers of the chaos (Chaos Days) The Sylt 2022 campaign, which is trending on social media, says its appeal is simply satirical, driven by the contrasting fortunes of people struggling to cope with a higher cost of living and who are seen as the beneficiaries of reduced transport costs, and the multi-millionaires and billionaires who often arrive on the island by private jet or yacht.
Sylt has long sandy beaches and is said to be one of the sunniest places in Germany. Its wealthy holidaymakers are accused of making it an enclave for the wealthy, making it unaffordable for locals and hotel and restaurant workers, some of whom have to commute from outside.
The islanders at least are taking the campaign seriously. Island bosses say they are tightening security ahead of a potential first wave of visitors on the weekend of June 4-5.
As the RND news site puts it: “The provocation is there, the ticket is cheap and the desire to party after the coronavirus years is great.”
Moritz Luft, head of Sylt Marketing, said: “We just don’t think the island is adequately equipped for the €9 ticket and the rush of visitors we expect in this regard.”
On the Chaostage Sylt 2022 Facebook page, people are invited to “come to Sylt with the €9 ticket and let it go”. Nearly 12,000 have signaled their interest in going. The ‘party’ will run from June 1 to August 31, it says, referring to the three-month period when the pass will be available as part of a series of government measures designed to help people cope with rising energy prices and other living costs.
Normally, the average price for a one-way ticket to Sylt from Hamburg – which takes around three hours on a regional express train – is €30.50, and double that for a return trip. Travel to Sylt with the discounted monthly pass can be made from anywhere in Germany as long as only regional or local public transport is used.
Isabella Wolbart, spokeswoman for the left-leaning youth organization Solid, is among those calling for Sylt to be “taken back” to become “an island for everyone”.
“It’s no surprise that this has been captured on the internet in such a humorous way, especially by the left-wing scene. It’s pure class struggle: champagne on one side, cans of beer on the other,” she told the weekly Die Zeit. “‘The Days of Chaos’ will be a campaign of civil disobedience. It’s a political way to draw attention to injustices and to attack an existing system.
Some islanders said they feared a repeat of events in the mid-1990s when national rail operator Deutsche Bahn introduced a “Happy Weekend ticket”, which allowed five people to travel for €15. Thousands of people descended on Sylt in what was the original ‘Days of Chaos’ action. Many carried with them cases of beer, fish and rolls, provocatively displayed in the plastic bags of the discount supermarkets where they were purchased.
Ole König, owner of a real estate agency in Sylt and originally from the island, told Die Zeit: “I have a feeling of deja vu – in the mid-90s… Sylt was taken over by hordes of backpackers and day trippers. . And you know what happened? Overcrowded trains and beaches, young people wildly camping on the beach, lighting up beach chairs and getting up of all sorts…I protest against this happening again…Those who intend to hunt us down have a bad sense of Sylt. It’s not a rich man’s zoo where millionaires and billionaires strut their stuff… we also have campsites and several hostels where half of Germany has been on holiday.
König said he was also concerned about potential damage to the island’s delicate nature and asked where all visitors expected to be accommodated, noting that Sylt only has 60,000 beds.
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner may regret deciding to move his July 7 wedding party from Tuscany to Sylt, a move he made after entering government. Island officials are now said to be looking to tighten security for the event.