Residents of Frozen Town Protest Mass Tourism

Hallstatt wants to cap visitor numbers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2023 6:27 AM CDT
Updated Sep 9, 2023 6:30 AM CDT
Residents of Frozen Town Protest Mass Tourism
This photo taken on Thursday, June 16, 2011, shows the Upper Austrian town of Hallstadt.   (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Hallstatt is a gorgeous village located amid beautiful Alpine scenery in Upper Austria, and many of its residents would like you to stay away. The town, which sits next to a pristine lake, has fewer than 800 residents, who are far outnumbered by up to 10,000 visitors on busy summer days, the BBC reports. Last weekend, more than 100 locals staged a protest against mass tourism by blocking the main tunnel leading to the village for around 15 minutes. They carried signs with slogans including "Now an emergency brake. Or we will be run over" and "Think of our children," Sky News reports.

The protesters called for a cap on the number of visitors and a ban on tour buses after 5pm. Hallstatt has been famed for its beauty since the early 19th century, but tourist numbers didn't explode until 1997, when it was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List, CNN reported in early 2020, shortly before the pandemic interrupted mass tourism. Its popularity grew among Asian tourists after the South Korean romantic drama series Spring Waltz was filmed there in 2006. Hallstatt is also believed to have been the inspiration for the fictional town of Arendelle in 2013's Frozen.

The town's mayor, Alexander Scheutz, was among the protesters. "We have really tried a lot in terms of visitor management. But we have reached a point where we're at the end of our possibilities," he said, per the Times of London. "As a village, we can only handle half of the tourists who come now." He said the town is looking into introducing a ticketing system to limit visitors to 5,000 per day. The BBC reports that in May, residents briefly erected a wooden "anti-selfie" wall blocking the view of the Alps, but it was taken down after backlash. (In 2011, a replica of the town was built in southern China.)

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