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February 04, 2013

Struth! Hallstatt Austrian UNESCO village 'Made in China'

Original in Austria (L) and the Chinese knock-off

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that the idea of Chinese take-away has been taken to new heights in the city of Huizhou that's built a copy-cat of the Austrian village of Hallstatt, often described as "the most beautiful lakeside village in the world."

And the Hallstatters are anything but pleased… particularly after they discovered that the Chinese had for several years been mingling with the 800,000 tourists who visit their village every year, taking detailed photographs, making sketches and measuring-up the local wooden chalets, ancient churches, a 400-year-old inn, picturesque shops and caf├ęs, and even the centuries-old market-place.

Just 800 people live in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hallstatt, which the Chinese have now replicated on a 2ha (5-acre) site as a "high-end residential development with mountain and lake views" – even though they're also having to build a lake as part of the copy-cat Hallstatt, and which will be complete down to a tourist ferry like in the real thing.

Huizhou is an industrial city whose local company, Chinese Minmetals Corporation believes will become a tourist magnet with its $8b replica Hallstatt – the same, it says, as the City of Chengdu did when it built a replica of part of England's historic little country town of Dorchester.

It's certainly elevated cloning to a new level.

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