The mayor of a tiny Austrian village has begged tourists to stay away, as up to 10,000 daily visitors swarm its streets in search of the perfect photograph.
With a population of 780, Hallstatt has seen a steep rise in visitors from China, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and South Korea after it appeared on popular television shows. Ten years ago it received just 100 visitors a day. Now, Hallstatt receives over 1 million visitors per year.
The village, tucked beside a lake and in the shadows of the Salzkammergut mountains, saw its first spike in popularity back in 2006 when it featured in the South Korean show Spring Watch. Soon after, it was marketed across Asia as one of Europe's top tourist destinations.
Then, in 2011, a Chinese mining tycoon spent $1.3 billion building a replica of the village in the southern Guangdong Province, much to the surprise of Hallstatt's residents, who weren't consulted on the project.
The village went on to attract yet more attention as rumours circulated that it was the inspiration for the village of Arendelle in the animated Disney film Frozen, with its Lutheran church standing in for Elsa's castle. The Instagrammers and influencers soon arrived; today, the hashtag #Hallstatt has been used over 615,000 times on Instagram.
Rachel Hosie, columnist at The Insider, visited Hallstatt in October. "Everywhere I looked, people were taking pictures," she said. "Most of the people taking selfies had their backs turned to the view. They simply took their pictures and left."
In November last year, a fire burnt a significant number of the village's 16th-century alpine houses to the ground. Before the fire was out, mayor Alexander Scheutz temporarily closed the roads into the village and issued a statement asking tourists to "stay away".
They didn't heed his advice. The tourists continued to arrive, with smartphones, drones and selfie sticks in tow.
The village earned Unesco World Heritage status back in 1997, at a time when it was visited by a manageable stream of walkers and enthusiasts of Bronze Age history; Halstatt is home to a 7000-year-old salt mine, the oldest in the world.
The boom in tourism has allowed many businesses to stay open throughout the year, and unlike other small Austrian villages it has been able to keep its schools and concert hall going despite a small local population. However, some residents have bemoaned the negative effects of mass tourism.
Verena Lobisser, who owns a hotel in Hallstatt, told the Washington Post: "It's a catastrophe. Many visitors seriously think this is a theme park."
The village has also become prohibitively expensive for locals, as supermarkets and convenience stores prioritise souvenirs over fresh fruit and vegetables. Others have complained that tourists have entered their homes without permission.
Hallstatt is just one of many destinations suffering from so-called "overtourism". On the front-line is Venice, which last year banned large cruise ships from docking at its historic city centre. In its latest measure, Venice is set to introduce a tourist tax as of July 1 2020. Other once-pristine destinations, like Iceland and the Faroe Islands, have also introduced measures to curb the negative impact of their own popularity.
See also: 'Addicted to cash': Why Venice is dying
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The Telegraph, London