Posted on 14/01/2020
Hallstatt is a small Alpine village in Austria and was reportedly the influence for Arendelle in the Disney films. Now, the village is struggling to cope with hordes of fans on the hunt for the perfect selfie.
A tiny Austrian village, said to have inspired the fictional town of Arendelle in the Disney movie Frozen, has been overwhelmed with thousands of visitors flooding its streets, all desperate to take that perfect photograph.
Ten years ago, Hallstatt was only receiving 100 visitors every day. These figures jumped to 2,000 and then 10,000 a day in 2019 after the release of the 2013 hit film and its sequel last year. According to The Guardian, that is six times the number of tourists per capita that Venice gets, a city notorious for its problem with overtourism.
Hallstatt's mayor, Alexander Scheutz, has said he wants to drastically slash these figures as the town is struggling to cope. "We want to reduce numbers by at least a third but we have no way of actually stopping them," he told The Times. "Hallstatt is an important piece of cultural history, not a museum."
Residents too aren't happy. "It's a catastrophe," Hallstatt innkeeper Verena Lobisser told reporters from The Washington Post last year. "Many visitors seriously think this is a theme park."
The village, tucked beside Hallstatt Lake and in the shadows of the magnificent Salzkammergut Mountains, was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1997 and is only an hour away from Salzburg or three and a half hours from the capital by train. But some visitors have been travelling from as far as China, Hong Kong and Japan after it appeared on a popular South Korean TV show and a Chinese mining tycoon spent £700m on building an exact replica of the village in the south-eastern province of Guangdong (concerningly without the town's knowledge or consent).
Skyrocketing food prices, litter, drones and even tourists wandering into residents homes without permission are among the problems Hallstatt are now facing. The Local Austria reported back in 2017 that the village was even employing "bouncers" to guard the doors at churches to stop tourists disturbing services.
Yet it's not all bad news. The spike in tourists has allowed many businesses to stay open throughout the year and the influx of tourist cash has funded the maintenance and upkeep of the small town's schools, nurseries and concert hall.
But if you ever find yourself passing through Hallstatt in the future, it might be best to keep your dramatic Let it Go reenactments on the down low!