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Austria offers festivalgoers free public transport for a year if they get a tattoo

The offer was available to those who got the word 'klimaticket' permanently tattooed.
The offer was available to those who got the word 'klimaticket' permanently tattooed. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Rosie Frost
Published on Updated
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The promotion has been criticised for using young people’s bodies to advertise political policies.

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Austria is offering free public transport for a year to people willing to get a tattoo reading ‘Klimaticket’ - the name of the country-wide public transport scheme.

Leonore Gewesseler, Green MP and Austria’s climate minister, was seen promoting the deal at the Frequency Festival in the town of St Pölten last Thursday.

She sported her own temporary tattoo which read “Gewessler takes the lead”, insisting that the promotion was unproblematic.

But, the tattoo for public transport ticket scheme has attracted criticism from other Austrian MPs and social media users.

How does the tattoo for ticket scheme work?

A pop-up tattoo parlour with a banner reading “Aktion geht unter die Haut” (Action that gets under your skin) has appeared at a number of events this summer.

Festivalgoers were invited to get ‘Klimaticket’ (climate ticket) tattooed on them in return for free, Austria-wide train travel for a year. Those behind the campaign say that six people, three at each festival so far this summer, have got a tattoo and received the free ticket.

This annual ticket can be used on almost all public transport in Austria, allowing people to travel throughout the country for just €3 a day with concessions available for young people, seniors and people with disabilities. 

It costs a total of €1,095 a year and around 245,000 people currently have one. Austria has a population of almost 9 million people.

Attendees at the events where the tent appeared were also offered other tattoo designs related to public transport, sustainability and climate change free of charge. Those behind the campaign say that around 10 people a day at each festival have taken part.

The offer for free rail travel, however, was limited to the first three people who got the Klimaticket design at each event.

Tattoo for ticket scheme has attracted criticism

After the pop-up tent appeared at Electric Love Festival in Salzburg six weeks ago, social media users criticised the campaign for encouraging irresponsible behaviour from young people.

“Is this such an exemplary action? Motivating young adults to get tattoos?” one Instagram user asked. The Klimaticket account simply replied with “personal responsibility”.

Critics have also accused Gewessler of using young people’s skin to advertise her policies.

Henrike Brandstötter, an MP for Austria’s liberal NEOS party, also said that “offering people money for putting advertising under their skin reveals an unacceptable view of humanity from a government minister”.

The Standard newspaper described the offer as “sustainably stupid” while the Salzburger Nachrichten called it “naked cynicism”.

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But Gewessler told a local TV station that the campaign had been “carried out with great care”.

She seemed to imply that festivalgoers are less likely to be inebriated during the day saying, “it is only done during daylight”. She also pointed out that the markings are “only offered to people over the age of 18.”

She also said that most of the people who got the tattoos already had some.

Representatives of the company which sells the climate ticket also told local press that feedback at the festivals was “extremely positive” and the campaign had been well received.

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There are currently no more events planned this year, they added, and they aren’t yet sure if the free ticket offer will be repeated in 2024.

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