Over the past few days, you may have seen the hashtag #Sylt trending on German Twitter and other social media.
Though this may sound like the name of some trendy start-up, Sylt is actually a picturesque North Frisian island just off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein – and it has recently become the subject of approximately a million memes.
It all started (as it often does) with an article in German tabloid Bild, which implied that residents of Sylt are terrified of ne’er-do-wells descending on this island this summer.
The issue is reportedly the bargain-basement travel ticket that the government has promised to introduce this summer. For just €9 per month, people can get unlimited travel on local and regional trains across Germany.
All being well, the deal is set to come in this June and last through August, so it follows that a lot of people will probably be using it for their summer holidays.
Normally, Sylt is known as a bit of a playground for the famous and affluent. In fact, it’s even been described as the “German Hamptons” in reference to the star-studded neighbourhood north of New York City.
But the well-heeled island-dwellers of Sylt appear to be concerned that drop in price could bring a rather different crowd to the island than the usual jet-setters.
“Sylt in fear of the 9-euro holidaymakers!” Bild wrote. “Cheap ticket to the island of the rich and beautiful!”
Obviously, the internet has totally lost it at the idea of the great unwashed swarming to the exclusive holiday destination, clutching the €9 ticket in their grubby paws.
On Twitter, people started imagining some of the terrifying consequences of giving people cheaper public transport over summer.
Sie kommen. pic.twitter.com/7Fa5jGixMa
— Der Gazetteur (@dergazetteur) May 5, 2022
One Twitter user suggested that the demographics of Sylt may change just a little bit if people with less money were suddenly allowed to go there.
Here’s a sobering ‘before’ and ‘after’ scenario for the residents of the wealthy island.
Sylt vor 2022 // Sylt ab 2022 pic.twitter.com/NlWbt80J1c
— Grindmaster Fesxh | NATO Maskottchen (@GRINDMAST0R) May 5, 2022
Others took an aerial view of the potential consequences of the €9 ticket. Could the crowds on Sylt be even bigger than the ones that turned up for Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009?
That’s the fear.
komplett sylt einfach pic.twitter.com/UOZmteVreN
— Max 🕊 (@maxfrerichs) May 4, 2022
Even German rail operator Deutsche Bahn got in on the action with a Sylt meme based on the Batman film, The Dark Knight rises.
“There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better take cover! Because when it hits, you’re all going to wonder how you ever lived so extravagantly while leaving the rest of us with so little…. #Sylt.”
"Ein Sturm zieht auf, Mr. Wayne. Sie und Ihre Freunde sollten lieber in Deckung gehen! Denn wenn er losbricht, dann werden Sie sich alle fragen, wie Sie je so maßlos leben konnten, während Sie uns anderen so wenig lassen…#Sylt pic.twitter.com/4wDx8HL75K
— Deutsche Bahn AG (@DB_Presse) May 5, 2022
Not to be left out, the DB’s Cargo division sees a role for itself in organising express industrial-scale deliveries of beer helmets, sangria and (very thoughtfully) electrolyte tablets for the hangovers.
They’re even offering an express service to Sylt!
Ich hab ne Leitung auf dem Dach ich fahr bei Cargo! pic.twitter.com/hELr1Gq9j2
— DB Cargo (@DB_Cargo) May 6, 2022
The Bild story also led a few other publications to speculate on what could happen to idyllic island over summer. In an article tagged “class war”, online news portal shz.de asked: “Are Fridays for Future and Punks storming Sylt now?”
If these scenes are anything to go by, it looks like there could soon be literal anarchy on Sylt.
— Alex Barbian (@alex__barbian) May 4, 2022
Most worryingly of all, Roman Wagner speculated that the €9 ticket could lead to another type of undesirable arriving on the island – one who appears to be checking whether you’re standing exactly 1.5 metres apart from all of your friends.
(Yes, that’s right, it’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, so you’d better have your Impfpass ready.)
— Roman Wagner (@RealRomanWagner) May 4, 2022
Is Sylt really going to be overrun this summer?
We hate to ruin everyone’s fun, but it’s possible! Sylt is a very popular destination for northern Germans, especially people based around the Hamburg area, and the transports links on and off the island could come under strain.
“We expect increased passenger numbers during the promotional period – both on the trains of the Marschbahn line from Hamburg to Sylt and on the buses on the island,” Moritz Luft, the managing director of Sylt Marketing, told Bild.
Sylt tends to be at capacity through much of summer even in normal years, so the additional traffic on the island could be a genuine concern. But Luft simply advises people to try and travel at off-peak times and avoid bringing bikes to the island that could overcrowd the regional trains.
Bernd Buchholz (FDP), Schleswig-Holstein’s Transport Minister, also emphasised that the roll-out of new double-decker coaches would mean significantly more seats could be provided on the Marschbahn.
Obviously there are a tonne of other wonderful places in Germany that tourists can go to with the €9 ticket. We’ve covered a few them here:
But if you are set on going to Sylt, don’t be put off from visiting the island this summer – while you still can.
— Turbo Demokrat (@TurbodemokratHB) May 4, 2022