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An Austrian Village Has A Tourist Problem


Hallstatt, Austria, is a small village that looks like it belongs in a fairy tale - Alpine dwellings, a stone church with a towering steeple, nestled in the mountains on a large lake. It's picture-perfect - too picture-perfect.

ALEXANDER SCHEUTZ: When I go to the office at 7 in the morning and I look out of the window, I can see the tourist. Everything is busy all the time. We have a great tourist problem.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Too many tourists, says Alexander Scheutz. He's the mayor of Hallstatt. The village is home to about 800 people, but he says more than a million tourists visit each year.

SCHEUTZ: They are very loud. They come in groups. They have drones.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: They have drones to take pictures. And some of the tourists do not respect privacy.

SCHEUTZ: They look into the windows - the houses. And the people who live in houses don't like this.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Now, many of them are day tourists, and some visit for only an hour. Business owner Andrea Stolz says they're not around long enough to really spend money in local shops and cafes.

ANDREA STOLZ: If you have one hour, you just run through the street, make a picture for Instagram and then you have to run back to your bus.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hallstatt's problem with too many tourists started about two decades ago, after it became a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has a 7,000-year-old salt mine. More tourists came after a South Korean TV show was filmed there. And then in 2013, there was this juggernaut.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Welcome to Arendelle.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character, speaking French).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Watch your step, please.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The Disney movie "Frozen." And fans have continued to come to Hallstatt, seeking a real-life version of Anna and Elsa's castle city.

SCHEUTZ: I think it's ironic that Hallstatt is seen as the place from this film. But I don't see nothing between "Frozen" and Hallstatt. I can't see it. It's Norway.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Norway is the inspiration for "Frozen's" Arendelle, not Hallstatt. Mayor Scheutz is not letting this go, though. He says this year, he'll limit the number of tourists who can visit each day so residents can have a better life and visitors can have a better time.

SCHEUTZ: When I look out of my window, I like to see tourists who have time - maybe one day or two day - to look how lovely is this little village. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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