Ostend in happier times...
Alexander Dumarey

“Coastal mayors can ban day-trippers from their resorts”

 Governor Carl Decaluwé of West Flanders is demanding that Belgium’s state-owned rail company comes up with a clear plan on how to organise flows of passengers to the coast this summer tout de suite.  The governor has joined the Mayor of Knokke-Heist is lambasting Belgian Rail for failing to possess a clear plan to deal with increased demand for rail transport to the coast during the holidays.  The rail company is adding a new link to its website to show prospective passengers how busy it is on the Flemish Riviera.

Despite the disappointing weather, concerns were expressed on Monday about how busy it was on the coast as a result of day-trippers brought in by rail.  Mayor Lippens spoke of “an uncontrolled flood of visitors from the great conurbations of Belgium and northern France”.

Governor Decaluwé stresses how important it is that the coast can welcome day-trippers safely. Constructive co-operation is needed: “Belgian Rail is adding a link to its website showing the barometer operated by the West Flemish Tourist Authority Westtoer that reveals how busy it is on the coast. People will be able to see for themselves how busy it is.  The barometer’s message may be ‘don’t get on the train or head for a different Flemish resort’.”

The governor is apprehensive about train coaches that are choc-a-block as well as resorts that are too busy: “The intention is not to dispatch choc-a-block trains to the coast.  Some extra holiday services may need to be cancelled.  Clarity is urgently needed.”

Quizzed about whether a local mayor could stop people from travelling to the coast Governor Decaluwé confirmed this was indeed possible: “A mayor has the legal jurisdiction to exclude people from his territory.  We hope it doesn’t come to this.  We are first and foremost in the business of seeking awareness about the issue of busy resorts”.

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