Locals of Austrian town that inspired ‘Frozen’ block tunnel to protest overtourism

Hallstatt residents have called for ‘radical limits’ on mass tourism

Travel Desk
Thursday 26 October 2023 12:51 BST
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<p>Protestors blocked the road into the town </p>

Protestors blocked the road into the town

Locals in the Austrian town that was rumoured to have inspired Disney’s Frozen have taken to protesting in the streets against overtourism.

Residents of Hallstatt are fed-up with crowds flocking to their home town, part of a Unesco World Heritage Site that’s home to a permanent population of just 800 but which sees up to 10,000 tourists pouring in each day during peak season, reports Insider.

Photos from the pretty town, on the shores of an Alpine lake and bordered by mountains, show protestors blocking a tunnel through which the main road into the town runs.

This summer, activists held signs with various messages, including “radical limits for mass tourism”, “tourism yes – mass tourism no”, and “visitors limitation, reclaim habitat”.

It’s not the first time that Hallstatt locals have taken steps to battle overtourism. In May, two wooden fences were constructed at the foot of the Salzkammergut Mountains to obstruct lakeside views of the area – stopping people from posing in front of the famous selfie backdrop.

However, after backlash on social media, the fences were removed.

The town’s mayor previously introduced a cap on the number of tour buses and cars allowed to enter the area.

In 2006, Hallstatt featured in a South Korean romantic drama, bringing it to the attention of audiences in Asia, with a replica of the town even being built in Guangdong, China, in 2011.

But it was catapulted to worldwide fame after a rumour spread that the fictional kingdom of Arendelle in the 2013 movie Frozen was based on Hallstatt – despite the art director of the film revealing they travelled to Norway and Canada for inspiration.

Many places in Europe have been introducing measures to tackle the issue of overtourism, such as Venice. Last month, the Italian city announced that day-trippers will be charged €5 to enter the historic centre from next year under long-awaited plans.

According to Responsible Travel, 20 million visitors flood Venice each year. On its busiest days, around 120,000 people can visit – dwarfing the 55,000-strong community of permanent residents.

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