Pomfret, Vermont: Town bans tourists and influencers from visiting during fall season

A picturesque country town that is known for its stunning scenery has banned all influencers and tourists from visiting.

The local residents of Pomfret, Vermont, came together earlier this month to announce their bold plan to keep out the ‘annoying’ influx of travellers that stampede into the town each year.

The US tourist hotspot has long been a coveted destination for snap-happy influencers thanks to its stunning autumn foliage that transforms the town into the perfect backdrop for a cosy ‘fall’ (Autumn) photo shoot.

The New England state of Vermont attracts over 13 million tourists each year, with the little town of Pomfret, which has a population of just 916, seeing many of these visitors flock there during September and October.

While local residents are used to tourism, they say that the type of visitors they are getting has changed drastically over the last five years.

Instead of the usual nature photographers and ‘out-of-towners’ staying at local B&B’s, Pomfret is now attracting social media stars hungry for content to share online.

Mike Doten, whose family has lived in the area since the 1700s, told the Boston Globe that this new breed of visitors – who he and his wife dub “TikTockers” – are the reason behind the drastic measure.

Cloudland Road, a narrow stretch of dirt and gravel with magnificent views of rustic farms, rolling hills and stunning colours, had long been a destination for nature enthusiasts.

But it has now achieved internet fame as one of the state’s prime must-see and must-photograph foliage spot.

That is when the trouble started.

This new wave of tourists are said to be rude, disrespectful, impatient and selfish, going to great lengths to capture the perfect photograph or video, regardless of how it may affect those around them.

Local farmer Cathy Emmons told the outlet that she and her husband Bill were left gobsmacked after they witnessed an influencer wander into private property and set up a portable changing booth, from which she emerged wearing different outfits for her selfies.

She has also spotted tourists casually strolling into her farm and stealing her tomatoes.

Another local recalled how he had a drone fly a few feet over his head last autumn as he sat outside having dinner with his family.

In a different incident, a tourist parked illegally in a resident’s driveway and used her garden shed as a toilet.

The influx of tour buses and cars have clogged the small roads of Pomfret, meaning emergency vehicles have no way of driving freely through the town.

In a memo posted by the local council, it was announced that authorities would be closing a number of roads to motor vehicle traffic from Sept. 23 to Oct. 15, including Cloudland Road in Pomfret and the entirety of Cloudland Road in Woodstock, which are the heaviest tourist areas

The town has also instituted temporary parking bans, signage and barriers.

“Foliage season traffic in this area has steadily increased during the last several years, causing significant safety, environmental, aesthetic, and quality of life issues,” read the memo.

“The steps summarised in this memo are part of a comprehensive effort, in co-ordination with area residents, to address these issues on the ground, through dialogue with local government partners, and on social and other information media.”

The traffic mitigation measures will cut off outsider access to the popular Sleepy Hollow Farm, a private residence, which has been a popular destination for influencers looking to snap selfies.

A Go Fund Me page titled “Save Cloudland Road,” has been set up by some locals to raise money for road closures and traffic enforcement during the autumn season.

“Over the past several years, Cloudland Road (and the small roads leading to Cloudland Road) have experienced an unprecedented surge in Instagram and TikTok-fuelled tourist ‘influencers,’ who earn money from sponsors and have monetised and turned a private home on Cloudland Road into a social media photo destination,” the GoFundMe description reads.

“During Fall foliage season, crowds commonly surge to hundreds of people at one time, and tour bus companies have even joined the fracas.

“Cloudland and surrounding roads become impassable during the Fall, and roads and poorly behaved tourists have damaged roads, had accidents, required towing out of ditches, trampled gardens, defecated on private property, parked in fields and driveways, and verbally assaulted residents.

“Most of these folks arrive for a selfie in front of one private residence, and what was once a ‘word of mouth’ occasional drive-by has become a selfie destination.

“Our plea is simple: As a community, the residents surrounding Cloudland Road have come together to work with the towns of Pomfret and Woodstock to bring peace, safety, and civility back to the families who live here.”

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