The idyllic town of Hallstatt, in the Austrian Alps, has fewer than 800 inhabitants. And his neighbors are fed up. Fed up with the fact that, in high season, the narrow streets of their village support the daily bustle of up to 10,000 tourists eager to take pictures with their lakes, their mountains and their picturesque wooden houses. In this alpine region everything seems like a fairy tale and in fact it is, since the creators of the movie Frozen took it as a reference to set Arandelle, the enchanted frozen kingdom of the Disney hit. But the visit that for travelers ends in a magical postcard to take as a souvenir has become an ordeal for its few inhabitants, who have decided to take matters into their own hands.
Last Sunday, August 27, more than a hundred Hallstatt villagers blocked the only access road to the town, through a tunnel, as a protest against the excessive influx of visitors. “Radical limits on mass tourism”, “We must protect our living space” or “Please think of our children” were some of the slogans – the latter in the purest style of Helen Lovejoy in The Simpsons – that could be read on their posters. The 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 are at the end of our possibilities. As a town, we can only handle half of the tourists that come now,” he said.
That’s all they ask: to introduce a ticket system to reduce the number of visitors to a maximum of 5,000 per day instead of the 10,000 who come to the town now in high season. The region has already imposed a limit on the number of tourist vehicles in 2020. “We have limited the number of buses to 45. For cars, we have space for 450, but we have quickly reached the limit,” Scheutz declared at the time. In May of this year, they were so fed up with the tourist invasion that, just as Princess Elsa erects the walls of her ice castle in the Disney movie, the residents of Hallstatt themselves built a wooden fence at one of the main viewpoints. of the village to block the view of the Alps and thus prevent selfies. The mayor told the media that its residents just wanted to be left alone. The fence barely lasted a week, but its space will now be occupied by a banner that reminds tourists that people live there and that they should not hinder the passage or crowd.
Residents of Helstatt protesting mass tourism in their village, August 27, 2023. REINHARD HOERMANDINGER (AFP)
The new measure they want to implement, according to Scheutz, would consist of access to the town being reserved in a similar way to what is done in other places of great tourist interest such as Machu Pichu, in Peru. Even so, the mayor recognizes that imposing this system is complicated by the difficulty of defining who is a tourist and who is not, since it does not contemplate including people from neighboring towns, such as Bad Goisern: “Does a goiserer have to reserve a ticket if you want to go have coffee with someone in Hallstatt? “I don’t think it’s a good solution.” Venice, Italy, which is much less crowded than Hallstatt in terms of tourists per population, planned to introduce a similar method of pre-booked visits for a fee starting in January, but postponed it until 2025 due to delays in approving regulations. regional authorities.
The best travel recommendations, every week in your inbox
In Hallstatt the measure could be decided on September 6 at a meeting between mayors of the area and the regional tourism association. For the moment, the proposal has the approval of the Austrian tourism minister, Susanne Kraus-Winkler, who has also called for a system of time slots in the small alpine village, but criticized the town in an interview with an Austrian media for not taking advantage of the calm time during the pandemic to find a solution to your tourism problem. “If it were that easy, we would have done it a long time ago,” Scheutz replied.
In 1997, the cultural landscape of Hallstatt was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO and is considered one of the most beautiful towns in the world. In China they have their own replica, built by the Chinese state mining company Minmetals Land, with copies of the houses, the market square and some of its most representative buildings. But there is only one Hallstatt, and beauty has a price.
Subscribe here to the El Viajero newsletter and find inspiration for your next trips on our Facebook accounts, Twitter and Instagram.
#Hallstatt #town #inspired #frozen #kingdom #Frozen #tourists