“We in Hallstatt are not children”

“We in Hallstatt are not children”
The Hallstatt citizens’ list blocked the access tunnel for about 15 minutes

HALLSTATT. When Susanne Kraus-Winkler (VP) on September 28th in Hallstatt “Liveable Alpine region” opened, Austria’s Secretary of State for Tourism will not win hearts. At least not those of the local politicians. “We were really annoyed by this choice of words here. That was instructive and condescending”says Hallstatt Mayor Alexander Scheutz (SP).

In an interview with the Kleine Zeitung, Kraus-Winkler told the people of Hallstatt that they had not done their homework on visitor management. Every spa hotel and every shopping center knows how to manage simultaneity. In Hallstatt, however, almost nothing is managed at all at the moment. Access to the community must be regulated, guests should get one “slot” have to book, she said. “If it were that easy, we would have done it long ago. Furthermore, a community cannot be compared to a hotel or a supermarket. Also: homework? We’re not children here”says Hallstatt’s mayor.

“Only tolerate half”

“Hallstatt tickets”, as planned by Kraus-Winkler, Scheutz can imagine. However, only for long-distance travelers. “Then Hallstatt is just as bookable as Machu Picchu. But what do we do with a Goiserer, for example? Does he have to reserve a ticket if he wants to go for a coffee with someone in Hallstatt? I don’t think that’s a good solution”says Scheutz.

Venice had already planned for the 2022 summer season to introduce a reservation obligation and fee for day visitors. But it wasn’t that easy after all: Due to a lack of approvals from regional authorities, the introduction was postponed to 2025 at the earliest. However, Kraus-Winkler, Scheutz and many citizens of Hallstatt agree on one point: the status quo is not an option. “We really tried a lot in terms of visitor management. But we’ve come to a point where we’ve run out of options. As a place, we can only tolerate half of the tourists that are coming now”says Scheutz.

Citizen list tunnel blockade

The council faction “Citizens for Hallstatt” blocked the access tunnel to the community for around 15 minutes yesterday at noon to draw attention to the overload caused by tourists. More than 100 people joined her. “We have to reach visitor numbers like ten years ago. At that time, 85,000 cars a year came to Hallstatt, which was still justifiable. Today, those numbers have nearly tripled”, says Friedrich Idam from the Bürgerliste. Mayor Scheutz also attended the rally and underlined its importance, but he was not happy with the timing. Because in the background, planning for a new project had already started, together with traffic planners, neighboring communities, tourism, the state and advertising for Austria. Topic: Control of visitor flows and quotas. The starting shot will be given on September 9th.

“If you ask me, steering can only work on state roads. Then the barriers not only have to go down when there is a risk of avalanches, but also when the place is completely overcrowded”, says Scheutz. But Hallstatt is not at the end of the valley and he understands that Obertraun and the Styrian towns would not be happy with that.

Source: Nachrichten

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