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Tourists Are Now Banned from Photographing This Swiss Village

It’s a blatant—if somewhat brilliant—press play

Don't even bothering searching for snaps like this. (Falk Lademann - Flickr/Creative Commons)
smithsonian.com

If you’ve ever been to Bergün/Bravuogn, you’ve probably photographed it. After all, the idyllic Swiss town boasts mountains, Alpine meadows and some seriously photogenic landscapes, not to mention historic buildings. But the heady days of filling your Instagram feed with images of the lovely burg are now over. Recently, reports Travel + Leisure’s Andrea Romano, a Swiss village banned photography at key tourist sites…because it’s just too beautiful.

In a press release, the city says that it’s all an attempt to prevent people from feeling sad when they realize they’re not in the gorgeous place photographed by visitors. “We don’t want to make people outside of the community who see pictures of our picturesque landscape on social media unhappy,” said Peter Nicolaya, the town’s mayor. The measure passed 46 to 2 in a town council meeting.

The ban is clearly a blatant—if somewhat brilliant—press play on the part of Bergün/Bravuogn. But it’s certainly not the only popular tourist destination to ban photos. As The Observer’s Jay L. Zagorsky reports, museums and tourist sites often restrict photography in a bid to control their own revenue streams by forcing people to go to gift shops or opt for official photography. So if Bergün/Bravuogn is banning photos to bring in more cash by tempting curious tourists, it has precedence—and good company in places like the Sistine Chapel.

Selfies can also make cities less safe. As Smithsonian.com reported in 2015, Russia released a selfie safety brochure after a rash of deaths and injuries among social media shutterbugs. And as Smithsonian.com reported last year, a German city has even designed crosswalks and stoplights to keep texting people from getting in the path of streetcars.

So what’s the penalty for breaking the town’s “too gorgeous for photography” rule? Romano reports that it will be a fine of about $5—and that the Bergün/Bravuogn’s tourist director says it’s unlikely to be enforced. Will people comply or just head to the town to see if it’s as beautiful as it claims? Only time—and hashtag counts—will tell.

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