Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Let Hallstatt go: Arendelle-like Austrian village eerily quiet as 'Frozen' fans stay away

Travel restrictions in place because of the coronavirus have left the streets of this alpine village deserted

Be careful what you wish for.

Earlier this year, the mayor of Hallstatt – a tiny village in Austria's mountainous Salzkammergut region – was pleading with tourists not to visit.

With daily numbers of about 10,000 people per day piling into the narrow streets of the Unesco World Heritage Site, tourists outnumbered the local population at a rate of more than 12 to 1.

Congestion, traffic jams and overcrowding in restaurants, shops and on the lake had become part of everyday life in the village thought to be the inspiration behind Arendelle, in Disney's popular Frozen.

In China, an exact replica of the town was built in Guangdong, inspiring thousands more people to go seek out the real thing. Hallstatt recorded more than a million visitors in one year.

Today, the tiny region which sits at an altitude of 511 metres under the slopes of the Dachstein range, is facing the opposite problem.

Travel restrictions put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19 coupled with the worldwide collapse of tourism has left Hallstatt empty of tourists. And with no travellers in town, there's no tourism income for locals.

Located about an hour from Salzburg, Hallstatt attracted atleast 100 visitors a day before it found Disney fame. Now, as Frozen fans are forced to "let it go", visitor numbers are even lower than that.

Authorities in Austria have restricted who can enter the country and are advising that any travel should be for essential purposes only. The measures are in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Updated: June 23, 2020 03:17 PM

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