Refugee crisis: Oktoberfest hit by falling crowd numbers due to border controls

Festival chief says new restrictions on travel  meant fewer tourists were making it to the 16-day event

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 04 October 2015 18:41
Police have blocked the application for an alcohol license at this year's Oktoberfest
Police have blocked the application for an alcohol license at this year's Oktoberfest

The refugee crisis has been blamed for the first attendance fall for six years at the world's biggest beer party as tightened border controls in Germany make travel through the country more difficult.

As Oktoberfest came to a close in Munich, it was revealed that the number of visitors fell to 5.9m - the lowest it has been since 2009.

Beer consumption was also down with 7.3 million litres (1.9 million gallons), or 400,000 large glass mugs fewer than last year, the Local reports.

Josef Schmid said the new tighter controls were the reason for the fall in numbers

Oktoberfest chief Josef Schmid told reports that the damp, cold weather was partly to blame for the fall but checks at the frontier were also likely to have kept some tourists from neighbouring countries away.

Local Bavarian authorities were said to have tried to keep the massive influx of party goers apart from the refugees who have continued to make their way to Germany from EU border countries.

8,000 refugees arrived in the region, which is on the Austrian border, in just one day last month as people choose to travel on towards Germany due to its wealth and broadly warm attitude towards them.

As a result of the massive influx German authorities have temporarily reinstated border controls which were abolished by the Schengen Agreement in 1985.

This has meant the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn suspended key services to and from Austria and Hungary.

As a result, the thousands of tourists who descend on the 205 year old festival every year have struggled to get to the city.

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