Responsible TourismThe town that inspired Disney’s Frozen attempts to tackle overtourism with a selfie-blocking fence.

Let it go: Picture-perfect Austrian town says no to tourist selfies

Hallstatt authorities recently erected fences to block popular photo spots, but quickly removed them due to public outcry.
Hallstatt authorities recently erected fences to block popular photo spots, but quickly removed them due to public outcry. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Feel good studio

Hallstatt, the enchanting Austrian town that inspired the kingdom of Arendelle in Disney's blockbuster movie Frozen, found itself at the centre of a battle against overtourism.

Seeking respite from the hordes of selfie-snapping tourists, local authorities decided to install wooden fences to block the iconic lakeside views that have become a hotspot for visitors seeking the perfect shot. However, the fences proved to be short-lived, as they were quickly taken down following a social media outcry.

With over a million tourists flocking to Hallstatt each year, the idyllic town's popularity has skyrocketed. Its breathtaking scenery and picturesque charm have captivated travellers from around the globe. But for the town's 780 residents, the influx of visitors has become overwhelming, disrupting the peace and tranquility they once enjoyed.

Mayor Alexander Scheutz acknowledged the locals' desire for a quieter existence and had hoped the fences would discourage excessive picture-taking and alleviate some of the crowding issues. However, the move received mixed reactions, prompting a rethink of the strategy.

In a lighthearted twist, Mayor Scheutz decided to replace the fences with a banner, serving as a gentle reminder to tourists that Hallstatt is not just a photo backdrop but a living community. The banner aims to foster a sense of consideration and respect for the town's inhabitants while allowing visitors to appreciate the beauty of the surroundings.

Hallstatt's battle against overtourism is not unique. Portofino, a charming fishing village in Italy, has also faced similar challenges. The introduction of no-waiting zones and €275 (US$297) fines for loitering in popular photo spots aims to strike a balance between welcoming tourists and preserving the town's essence.

As destinations grapple with the impact of overtourism, finding the right solutions is a delicate balancing act. Hallstatt and Portofino serve as reminders that sustainable tourism requires a mutual understanding between visitors and locals.

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