A ballot to limit numbers at next year’s Anzac Day centenary dawn service at Gallipoli may not head off mayhem, a leading war historian and battlefields tour operator has warned.
He says thousands could still turn up without an admission pass. More than 42,000 Australians have applied for the free passes in a ballot conducted by the government, but only 8000 will be granted.
As well as the Australian allocation, 2000 places will go to New Zealanders and 500 to VIPs. The results of the ballot may be announced at the end of the month.
”The issue that no one is discussing is what will happen with the thousands of people who come along anyway,” said Mat McLachlan.
”The government is saying that if you don’t have a pass don’t come to the service, but I believe the backpacker market, from London in particular, will come over.
”The service is on a Saturday, and they’ll just fly across with a few days’ notice. This will create a massive overflow.
”Gallipoli is difficult to get to and they just can’t be turned away. The government will have to provide toilets, shelter, food and water. Otherwise we’ll end up with thousands of people sitting in the cold along the side of the road.”
Mr McLachlan said interest in Gallipoli and battlefield tours had been booming, largely fuelled by backpackers touring Europe.
He said he started Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours in 2007 with just 35 people and now takes 2000 annually.
He said the centenary service had attracted unprecedented interest.
But there is only enough space at North Beach, where the service is held, for about 10,500 people, and a cap has been settled between the Australian, New Zealand and Turkish governments.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has been advising people without a pass not to head for the service, and has plans for a social media campaign aimed at backpackers in Europe, who may try to make last-minute plans to go.
”There will be no overflow site for those without an attendance pass,” a spokesman said.”
More than 98 per cent of visitors who attend the services, do so as part of an organised tour due to the remote location of the commemorative sites.
”DVA has an ongoing close working relationship with tour operators in Australia and Europe to ensure they are advising all current and potential customers of ballot arrangements,” the department spokesman said.
Despite the restricted numbers, Mr McLachlan said a lot of tour companies were doing Anzac trips.
”They will be of various quality,” he said. ”A lot of them are doing two-week loops of Turkey with just two days at Gallipoli. But with the crowds and the security, what can you expect to see in two days? There will be 300 buses on the road, it will be slow going.”
Cruise ships are also muscling in for the 2015 centenary service. The founder of Captain’s Choice, Phil Asker, said there would be up to 12,000 people on ships off Anzac Cove. ”We were overwhelmed with the interest,” Mr Asker said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.Continue reading Gallipoli service ‘mayhem’ warning