December 3, 2008 / 7:08 PM / 9 years ago

Austria's Salzburg resists "Sound of Music" hotel

2 Min Read

<p>Villa Trapp, the original Sound of Music family home, is pictured in Salzburg, May 13, 2008.Leonhard Foeger</p>

VIENNA (Reuters) - "The Sound of Music" has faded in the Austrian city of Salzburg, which has blocked plans to turn the original von Trapp family villa portrayed in the Hollywood favorite into a hotel, says the company behind the idea.

The 1965 film is based on the true story of how trainee nun Maria wins over Baron von Trapp and his seven children through her singing and good nature, and its fame draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to Salzburg, and the villa, each year.

But Salzburg's planning council is standing in the way of the hotel project because residents are worried the city, close to Austria's idyllic Alps, will be overrun by more tourists, according to the Villa Trapp company.

"Salzburg bites the hand that feeds its tourism," the developer said in a statement on Wednesday.

"It could be thought madness that a new tourism venture is being blocked when global financial problems could result in far fewer tourists for Salzburg," it said.

No one from the local government was available for comment.

The hit movie, which starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, has inspired musicals worldwide and healthy sales of Sound of Music merchandise.

In Austria, visitors can get married at the villa, which was home to the real von Trapps from 1923 to 1938 before they fled the Nazi takeover of Austria.

Nazi Germany's security chief Heinrich Himmler used the villa, just outside Salzburg, as a home close to the Austrian Alps until 1945. Some opponents of the hotel have accused the developers of wanting to build a memorial to Nazism.

The developers want to provide 14 hotel rooms for guests to the villa and say they have a solution to the traffic problems which extra tourists could cause. They are looking to appeal the decision but the whole process could take up to three years.

Editing by Charles Dick

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