The commune of Bergün/Bravuogn, not far from St Moritz, voted to bring in the new law in its municipal assembly on Monday.
Why? Because the people of Bergün/Bravuogn think their village is so beautiful that if people see photos of it on social media they will feel miserable because they aren’t there themselves.
“It is scientifically proven that beautiful holiday photos on social media make the viewer unhappy because they cannot be there themselves,” said the village tourist office in a statement.
Bergün/Bravuogn has a particularly picturesque landscape to offer, so it risks making people particularly unhappy, it feels.
“Bergün/Bravuogn 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,” he added.
Fines of five francs will be issued to anyone contravening the photography ban, with all proceeds going to help protect the landscape, said the statement.
The tourist office has already taken down photos of the village from its own Facebook and Twitter accounts and intends to remove them from its website.
However the move hasn’t gone down well with some, with many people criticizing the ban on Bergün’s Facebook page.
“If this is true then it’s (a), the worst joke I’ve ever heard, and (b), for me a reason to never visit Bergün,” said one.
Others compared the village to North Korea, while another said the village should be “ashamed” of its “disgusting” behaviour, adding: “There’s no way I’m going to visit this village again!”
Others found it funny, taking it as a joke or a marketing initiative, but questioned whether it was the right way to attract tourists or was simply bad PR.
Addressing the negative comments on its Facebook page, the tourist office said it was “aware that the new law would not appeal to everyone” but that it had chosen a “bold way” to promote the village.
Speaking to The Local on Wednesday, the village’s director of tourism Marc-Andrea Barandun admitted that, in part, the ban is a marketing ploy.
The law is real, it was indeed voted for by the town council, he said. “But in the background of course the idea is that everyone talks about Bergün. So it’s a combination of both – we made the law and also there’s some marketing [aim] behind it.”
He said the threatened fine is unlikely to be actually imposed on anyone.
Given the negative comments on social media, is he worried the idea might backfire?
“No I don’t think so, because the whole story is not finished yet,” he said, adding that the tourist office has more plans related to the ban that will be revealed later this week.
“By Friday evening everyone knows what the idea was behind this law,” he said. “It’s a surprise”.
In any case, whether negative or positive the idea has certainly got people talking about Bergün.