Sat Jun 2, 2012 7:37PM
In the Southern Chinese province of Guangdong, a controversial Chinese clone of Austria's UNESCO World Heritage village Hallstatt opened its doors to visitors. The "made in China" version has a total area of about a million square meters and is aiming to attract tourists and homebuyers alike. With pastel-colored houses and an exact replica of the original village’s church clock tower, it began construction one year ago and came with a pricetag of $940 mln. After news reports of the Chinese Hallstatt first surfaced, angry locals in Austria announced they were consulting with UNESCO on how to take legal action over the copy. Later, however, they decided the Chinese project was good advertising. Hallstatt's mayor, Alexander Scheutz flew in to mark the official opening of the replica and signed documents that promised future cultural exchange. Half the world away in Austria the touristy and salt-mining town of Hallstatt has a history dating back to around 900 to 400 BC. Director of Tourism for the village Pamela Binder says she has come to accept the Chinese replica. Fewer than 50 Chinese tourists visited Hallstatt in 2005, but now thousands fly to the Austrian town every year, according to officials from the Austrian delegation in China. The original Hallstatt's website now carries a slogan: "The original Hallstatt. Photographed a million times. Copied once.