On the subject of the weekend S-Bahn closures from 6th of July to 20th August, one question remains at the forefront of my mind. Exactly how will these closures affect Munich's tourism industry in the immediate and near future? Thousands of German, European and other international travelers have booked their city summer breaks or are planning to and will soon flock to Munich in the July and August heat. The well-organised tourist will have looked into how they will be getting from the airport to their hotel. Under normal circumstances, they should take the S8 to Ostbahnhof and from there take the S-Bahn onto Marienplatz? What a good idea. Except that they will arrive at Ostbahnhof on a Saturday morning only to find that they must re-think their travel plan. A bus is a simple thing to catch, is it not? But for a traveler with a young family to coordinate, it can only lead to an increase in stress levels.
Not only will it affect the arrival and departure journey of the weekend visitor, but their whole weekend break. It is one thing for a visitor to orientate themselves around the workings of an inner-city travel city in such a short space of time, but to have to orientate oneself around a transport system suffering under such huge alterations during peak tourist season cannot be a pleasant experience. I would not want to be in their shoes.
Seven weekends in a row will be affected and subsequently seven lots of weekend visitors and tourists will have an edge of confusion and stress added to their holiday. Will this summer's transport chaos affect the return rate of these tourists next year? Tourism is a delicate industry where it's many benefactors depend upon each other and work together in order to meet expectations and create an unforgettable holiday experience. To name but a few in this vital chain, hotels, bars, restaurants and tour companies all rely heavily upon one another and in such an industry a city's transport system is no small time player. In fact, it is in an integral part. Such a show of unreliability and disruption could leave a negative impression upon a tourist, who would otherwise have spent a very enjoyable few days moving around the delights of Munich summer life with ease and fluidity. As a result, is it possible that they opt for a different destination next summer?
You may think that the weekend closure of Munich's main S-Bahn stations and the potential issues that they pose have been blown a little out of proportion here; or perhaps you have become accustomed to construction works that take place during the summer months. But what of the thought process that led to this decision being made. Science, engineering and money will have naturally played large roles in the preparatory considerations, but it is quite obvious that although the daily commute of the 5 day week for Munich residents has been spared disruption, Munich's summer tourism industry has been completely neglected here.
One has to wonder at the complacency of it all. Apart from Berlin, Munich is arguably the top destination for the discerning traveller within Germany. But are Munich's authorities so confident in their ability to attract tourists during these summer months that they have forgotten about all the other colourful and inviting tourist destinations in and around Bavaria that may well deal with the tourist on a more personal level?
Such a lack of forward thinking could be more damaging to the local economy than one may think. Unfortunately it is unlikely that Munich or indeed Germany can afford to damage its reputation as a wonderful summer hot-spot at this financially fragile time. But no one can provide the answers, so I suppose the most we can do this summer is make use of our normally efficient inner-city transport system whilst at the same time keeping a beady eye-out for the tell-tale signs of a confused and panic-stricken traveller. A few words of advice cost nothing, but a lack of them may cost us dearly in the near future.