Residents of the stunning Austrian village that’s rumored to have inspired Disney’s “Frozen” are fed up with the hoards of selfie-taking tourists that have flocked to it.
Hallstatt, tucked away in the mountains of Austria, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring beautiful, old homes that line the shores of an alpine lake amid a backdrop of snowy peaks. While it has a population of about 800 residents, up to 10,000 tourists per day flow through its picturesque streets during the busy season.
Locals of the town have recently been protesting against overtourism, a problem facing many historic cities in Europe. In August, Hallstatt residents staged a protest by blocking off the main tunnel road that leads into the town, the BBC reported.
Photos showed protestors holding signs with messages like “Visitors limitation, reclaim habitat” and “Radical limits for mass tourism.” Other signs said “World culture at its end” and “Tourism Yes. Mass tourism No.”
Hallstatt has become a tourism hotspot in recent years. It was featured in a 2006 South Korean film, which brought it to the attention of many people in Asia, the BBC reported. A full replica of Hallstatt was even built in China. It was unveiled in 2012 and cost an estimated $940 million to build.
The town has also long been associated with the popular 2013 Disney movie “Frozen,” which has also boosted its profile. But while fans have speculated Hallstatt was the inspiration for the fictional kingdom of Arendelle — and the similarities are apparent — the art director of the film said he had traveled to Norway and Canada for inspiration, not Austria.
Still, the town remains associated with the movie. Michelle Knoll, an office manager for Hallstatt’s tourism board, previously told The New York Times a lot of tourists appeared to be visiting just for the selfies.
“Many visitors only have a short time and only come to take some pictures,” Knoll said, adding: “The number of tourists is simply too much.”
The town has already taken some measures to limit tourism, including limits on the number of tour buses that are allowed in per day. In May, residents even installed a large wooden fence at a particular viewing spot to stop tourists from piling up there to take selfies. But it the wall was removed following an outcry on social media, BBC reported.
Protesting locals say much more needs to be done to control the quantity and quality of tourists. “Hallstatt no longer lives on tourism; it is being squashed by overcrowding,” Friedrich Idam, a 62-year-old local resident, told NBC News.