In the Austrian town of Hallstatt, tourists are becoming a nuisance to the locals who are giving them the cold shoulder for using their living space as a photo opportunity.
In an effort to ward of tourists, the locals fenced its popular lakefront view after the space got crowded with groups of unwanted tourists who claim the town influenced the setting in the animated Disney film “Frozen.”
Mayor Alexander Scheutz explained that the small village of 750 permanent residents is being overwhelmed by 7,000 additional visitors every day who come for photographs of the Lake Hallstatt and the Dachstein Mountains.
In 1997, the town was declared as a Unesco World Heritage site but the visitors weren’t bothered with the protection since they were interested in impressing their social media followers. Residents are growing tired of tourists and they want them to let go of the hype around this place. People who live in the community wish the tourists would pick another spot for their selfies.
Resident Andrea Zimmerman, who lives in the area, explained that the crowds and noise level have negatively impacted both her and her husband’s health.
“I am really concerned about my husband. He had to go back and see the doctors again, he now has problems with his heart,” Zimmerman said. “And with me, the gastritis is coming back. So, psychologically, things are going really badly for us.”
In hopes of minimizing the crowds, Scheutz rolled out wooden “privacy screens” that blocked the view but locals weren’t on board with the plan. They criticized the official decision and the mayor had to remove the screens.
“It was just a tryout,” said Scheutz in a statement. “We discussed it in the municipal council. But the plan has now been discarded, there will be no such privacy screen in Hallstatt.”
The wooden screens have been swapped out for a banner that reads: “We live here. Please enjoy the view in peace.”
Scheutz begs the visitors to find a new location to explore since this spot is exceeding its capacity.
“Hallstatt is an important piece of cultural history, not a museum. We want to reduce numbers by at least a third but we have no way of actually stopping them,” said the mayor.
Although officials and locals are pleading for tourists to rethink plans, the tourists are hard to keep away. Even a fire wasn’t enough to stop the visits. “Locals feel as though they are living in a theme park,” wrote the Guardian in a travel profile. “In November, a fire destroyed a large chunk of the waterfront, yet still the tourists came.”
As the Frozen song’s lyrics go, “Let it go.”