The picturesque Austrian town of Hallstatt escalated its battle with overtourism by constructing wooden fences that obstruct lakeside views of the area.
Two fences appeared in the town at the foot of the Salzkammergut Mountains earlier this week, partially blocking the view of Hallstatt’s famous selfie backdrop.
Hallstatt, a protected Unesco World Heritage site, has hosted over a million tourists a year since rumour spread that the striking landscape had inspired the kingdom of Arendelle from Disney’s hit film Frozen.
A replica of the small town was even built in Guangdong, China in 2011 after the idyllic Alpine area went viral in east Asia, but visitor numbers have soared even more since the 2013 movie’s release.
The scale of the overtourism has threatened to leave the town overwhelmed, according to local officials.
Pre-pandemic, foot traffic in the town had risen to around 10,000 visitors a day, prompting the town’s mayor, Alexander Scheutz, to introduce a cap on the number of tour buses and cars allowed to enter the area. Hallstatt had previously intended to “reduce numbers by at least a third.”
The move to erect the fences is reminiscent of the sanctions used to curb crowding and lingering in the photo hotspot of Portofino, Italy.
In April this year, it was announced that tourists to the photogenic spot could be fined €275 (£242) for “lingering” at two Instagram-famous areas within the popular Italian fishing village, which are now marked as red zones or “no waiting” areas.
The Mayor of Portofino, Matteo Viacava, has said tourists who pause to take photos are causing “anarchic chaos”, including continuous traffic jams and congested pavements.
Thailand and the Galapagos Islands have introduced similar measures.
However, Hallstatt’s fences have since been dismantled following backlash on social media. In a statement to local website Upper Austrian News, Mayor Scheutz said: “The only thing that would help is if the photo point is no longer a photo point.”
Instead, a banner reminding visitors to be considerate of Hallstatt’s 780 residents will take the fences’ place.
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