Located in the Swiss Alps, near the famous resort of St. Moritz, the commune of Bergün/Bravuogn is one of the most beautiful mountain villages in Europe. So beautiful, in fact, that photos of it shared on social media may make people feel depresses that they can’t visit, so local authorities banned tourist from taking photos.
It may sound like a joke, but it’s actually a new law adopted by the Bergün village council and approved by its mayor. And yes, their justification for the photo ban is that photos of their beautiful home with the stunning mountain peaks in the background could make people seeing them on social media jealous and depressed. To deter visitors from taking photos in Bergün, they plant to implement a symbolic €5 fine for those caught breaking the new rules.
According to a statement by the Bergün tourism authority, “It is scientifically proven that beautiful holiday photos on social media make the viewer unhappy because they cannot be there themselves.”
“Bergün is beautiful, we don’t want to make people outside the community unhappy by sharing social media photos of our picturesque landscape, and we cordially invite you to visit Bergün to experience it for yourself,” said mayor Peter Nicolay. “I am very pleased that the inhabitants of Bergün have the happiness of all people at heart. That makes me very proud.”
Photo: Adrian Michael
However, it seems unlikely that Bergün’s new law was really thought up as a way to spare Facebook or Instagram users of the depressing experience of seeing the beauty of the village. As the news went viral online, many speculated that it was actually a clever marketing scheme, a theory that was at least partially confirmed by the village’s director of tourism, Marc-Andrea Barandun.
“In the background of course the idea is that everyone is talking about Bergün,” he told The Local. “So it’s a combination of both – we made the law and also there’s some marketing [aim] behind it.” Barandun added that it is unlikely that anyone will actually be fined from taking a photo in the village.
To show that they were serious about the law, Bergün authorities removed photos of the village from its Facebook and Twitter accounts, and have declared their intention to remove them from the Bergün website too.
If the new law is just a promotional stunt, it actually worked wonders, as people started posting more photos of the beautiful mountain village soon after news of the photo ban started making news headlines.
A few days ago, Mayor Nicolay addressed the controversial photo ban in a promotional video, where he offers people visiting Bergün a special permit to take photos. He cautions them to think twice before sharing the pics online, though, as they could be making their friends depressed.