Oktoberfest crowds drown recession in beer

DDP/The Local
DDP/The Local - [email protected] • 27 Sep, 2009 Updated Sun 27 Sep 2009 12:36 CEST
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Oktoberfest is booming despite the bad global economy, with 100,000 more guests downing a Maß or 10 in the first week compared with last year, organisers reported Sunday.

Some 3.3 million people packed the tents and beer gardens during the first half of the festival, which runs until October 4, Munich tourism chief Gabriele Weishäupl announced.

The flow of beer rose accordingly, despite any fears about a tighter flow of cash. In the first eight days, punters necked 200,000 more litre mugs of beer, know as a Maß in German, than last year. In most years, the 6 million or so visitors each drink an average of 1 litre of beer.

Lest health campaigners be alarmed, the sale of alcohol-free drinks also rose – by 15 percent.

However, it seems visitors subsidised their drinking by cutting back on other spending. The sale of souvenirs, hotel rooms and carnival ride tickets were all down on last year.

“Tourism is somewhat dampened,” Weishäupl said.

She attributed the booming business to the mild and sunny weather, making the beer gardens in front of the tents particularly pleasant.

Munich’s Mayor Christian Ude said he was delighted that Oktoberfest had got off to “a very relaxed and peaceful start.”

On Saturday, authorities announced a no-fly zone over Oktoberfest to prevent terrorists crashing planes into the crowd, after repeated threats from al-Qaida and the Taliban against Germany.

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