Hallstatt Village in Austria has brought in “bouncers” at its church doors and cemeteries to prevent tourists from disrupting services and funerals.
The tiny historic Alpine village in Austria’s Salzkammergut Lake Region which is a Unesco World Heritage Site, is usually flocked with visitors from all over the world and is particularly popular with tour groups from Asia.
Hallstatt village is famous for its beautiful baroque architecture and the world’s oldest salt mines. However, locals have complained that the tourists are regularly disturbing services at the village’s Protestant and Catholic churches, and even disrupting private funerals by taking photos of the mourners with their cameras and selfie sticks.
On All Saints’ Day, on November 1st (a national holiday in Austria), locals complained that they were disturbed as they went to light candles and lay flowers at their relatives’ graves by a group of tourists whispering and waving cameras around – something which they felt was disrespectful.
In response, leaders of the village’s two churches have started to lock their doors before services begin or put someone (‘bouncers’) at the entrance to block tourists from entering. Though the Church leaders stress that visitors are still welcome at other times, “Bouncers” are also posted to the local cemetery during funerals.
Speaking to local media, Pastor Dankfried Kirch said that services now only begin once the church door has been locked, or if there is someone manning the door. During funerals, the grave-digger now has an additional task – asking tourists to stay away from the mourners and to refrain from taking photos and using selfie-sticks.
Parish council head Reinhard Kerschbaumer adding a touch of self-criticism explains that they sometimes have to show more moral courage and have the heart to do something and not just grumble after the fact.
Kerschbaumer said that locals must also be prepared to stand up for their beliefs and let visitors know when their behaviour seems disrespectful.