There are many, many Chinese tourists here and they all want one thing - a photo, a photo of Hallstatt in Austria and they want to be in it too. For some reason the small village in in Austria's mountainous Salzkammergut region is immensely popular.
Tour groups come, see and click. Yes it's pretty of course but why in fact do they come here?
Some of the people interviewed say that they come because after a quick internet search they found that the town is oft-rated in the top 3 most beautiful towns in the world while others point to the amazing natural scenery with mountains, flowers and a river to be found here.
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Up to 7000 Chinese visitors jostle through the streets every day but they don't stay long, just long enough for a snapshot or two much to the annoyance of some of Hallstatt's 800 residents.
Monika Wenger, a hotel owner in the area, says that the visitors neither have time to drink a cup of coffee nor to buy a souvenir, they just walk through, take hundreds of pictures and then are bundled back to their bus and on to the next town. Another local says its difficult to navigate the town of foot because the crowds pushes from all sides.
Another reason Hallstatt is on the Chinese radar is that it has a twin - an identical twin in China.
The Hallstatt clone was opened in 2012 near Guangzhou in the south of the country. It's also favoured by day trippers and Chinese people who have neither the time nor the cash to fly to Austria. It's popular as a photo background too but the Austrian original is unique thanks to the authentic landscape so the better off Chinese people keep coming.
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By the end of the year it could be over a million and that is too many for the townspeople, they're now thinking of ways to limit the tourist crowds. Warning signs have already gone up asking visitors to respect the local population. In general - tourists are welcome in Hallstatt but so many all at once can be hard to handle.
This upper Austrian area is just too lovely and its too bad some Hallstatt locals may think to themselves that the news has reached all the way to china.
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