“It is one to midnight, everyone must take their responsibilities.” The railway company retorted that such a decision “rests with the government”. A dense summer day attracts no less than 15,000 day tourists who take the train to Ostend. “It is simply too much. Our three most frequented beaches have a capacity of 15,000 people but we obviously also welcome the inhabitants, the owners of a second residence and the tourists of several days”, points out the mayor. The beaches of Mariakerke and Raversijde are quieter, but day tourists naturally head from the station to the busier beaches nearby.
“I urge the SNCB to remove the additional trains immediately because I can no longer distribute” the passengers, urges Bart Tommelein. He also wants the railway company to limit the use of other trains to a maximum of 80% of their capacity. “The additional trains aim to better distribute travelers, but in practice they are overloaded and bring more tourists to the Coast. This should not be the objective with the challenge of the coronavirus.”
The number of day trippers traveling by train to Ostend could thus be reduced to 10,000. “It’s already hellish but 15,000 is no longer possible for our city. It must stop, otherwise the federal government must intervene. I do not want to refuse day tourists but limit them”, underlines Mr. Tommelein, referring to the decision of Blankenberge not to admit day trippers on Sunday, due to a general fight that took place on Saturday.
The mayor of Ostend has already asked the public prosecutor’s office to initiate strict prosecution via accelerated procedures against tourists who overstep the line.