The visual inspiration for animation movie Frozen, the Austrian mountain town of Hallstatt attracts tourists from across the world, mainly to just click selfies at its scenic locations. But with hordes of tourists flocking to Hallstatt, the town’s mayor has set a boundary for them (quite literally).
A wooden barrier was set up about a week ago on one of the visually enthralling roads of Hallstatt (that offers background views of the mountains and cottages). The motive was clear: to prevent tourists from assembling for selfies.
While it has been taken down now, mayor Alexander Scheutz told local media that the area’s residents wished to be left alone by the millions of tourists who flock to this UNESCO World Heritage Site every year.
The mayor adds that he wants a banner to be put up as a reminder to tourists that people also live here.
A similar sanction was observed at the picturesque town of Portofino. Technically an Italian commune, Portofino is noted for the vibrant paintings that line its shore. Attracting the European aristocrats since the 19th century, Portofino has had a rich history of being a tourist town.
Needless to say, people also flock here to subject the landscape to their camera flashes.
However, after Easter 2023, the town municipality came up with a tourism photograph law. This law prevents tourists from clicking photos at certain spots in the town for fears of overcrowding. Infringement by any tourist could lead to fines up to 257 Euros.
As per 2021 estimates, over 10 to 20 million tourists visit Amsterdam every year. Tourist hotspots like the Museum Quarter and the Red Light District faced not just the threat of overcrowding but even tourists displaying uncivilised behaviour.
From 2017 onwards, the city clamped down on overcrowding (sadly with not many positive results) with measures like limiting Airbnb rentals, banning new tourist shops from opening in the city center, and diverting tourists to less busy attractions using apps and live streams.
Not only are the Galapagos islands pretty to look at, they are also very very ecologically sensitive. A 2007 UN report on the archipelago revealed that in a matter of 15 years, the number of days cruise passengers spent at the islands increased by 150%. What did this lead to?
Immigration growth ->inter-island traffic -> more invasive species
So, in lieu of the UN study, the local government tried to regulate overcrowding and cruise travel. Much like Portofino, tourists will get to click photos only in special visitor areas. The wilderness, most of which comes under a national park, can be explored by tourists only if they adhere to certain rules such as always being accompanied with a Galapagos National Park Guide.
Doubling as the shooting location for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, the Croatian town of Dubrovnik has also struggled with overcrowding by tourists. While he could not resort to dragons to drive off the tourists, the erstwhile city mayor Mato Frankovic mandated that Dubrovnik will only accept a maximum of two cruise per day (with 5,000 passengers being the upper limit).
Frankovic also pushed to cut down the number of souvenir stands and restaurant tables along with installing more security cameras at the city’s entrance to track the number of visitors.
Numerous islands off the coast of Thailand have fascinated tourists and Hollywood filmmakers. For instance, the titular beach in the Leonardo DiCaprio-starrer The Beach was the famous Thai island of Maya Bay. But with overcrowding causing intense pressure on the ecology, the Thai government decided to permanently close down Maya Bay for all tourists.
The move was introduced in 2018 and stayed enforced till 2022. However, in 2023, the island was reopened to tourists following some progress in ecological restoration. However, unlike previous times, tourists can’t swim around the island with guards preventing anyone from venturing beyond knee-deep water.