Hallstatt resident Friedrich Idam, 62, said residents felt the need to protest this “avalanche” of mass tourism.
“Hallstatt no longer lives from tourism, it is suppressed by overcrowding,” he said.
This Alpine idyll is just one of them many crowded, photogenic places across Europe where tensions between residents and tourists have reached a boiling point.
“You always assume that this only happens in Venice or Barcelona, but that’s not the case, you see it all over the world,” said Xavier Font, an expert in tourism and sustainability at the University of Surrey in south-west England.
“This group of people in Austria just got organized and they say ‘enough’.” And they are right when they say that. In some parts of the world, people are poor and they have to put up with it.”
Hallstatt was featured on a Korean TV show in 2006 and sparked hype on social media. City officials said so far this year tourists from 87 nations have been registered as visitors, including many from the United States.
US tourists tend to stay overnight, while others are more likely to take a day trip, local residents said.
As for the alleged ties to Disney’s Frozen, the filmmakers said, despite the valley’s uncanny resemblance to the setting in the film have modeled their fictional kingdom of Norway. The plot is based on “The Snow Queen” by the Danish fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen.
The picturesque town had become so popular with Chinese tourists that in 2012 a Chinese company built a faithful replica of the Austrian town in distant Guangdong Province. allegedly costs 940 million US dollars.
However, the Hallstatt Tourist Association says on its website English language site: “But only in the original do you discover this truly unique culture with such a history and all this in a breathtaking mountain setting.” It is an invitation to foreign visitors, which the local authorities are now trying to restrict.
After forcing tour operators to book dedicated slots before arriving with tourist buses, activists are now also calling for a cap on the number of private vehicles and tourists per day.