What is the one place in the world that is visited more than anywhere else?
The Great Pyramids of Giza, in Egypt? The Colosseum, in Rome? The Eiffel Tower? The Great Wall of China?
The answer would be “No,” “No,” “No” and “No.”
Here’s a hint: Think big and “fruity,” and American, with bright lights and lots of people walking around. The answer: Times Square, in New York City (AKA the Big Apple), according to “Travel + Leisure” magazine. The attraction, which draws an average of 39.2 million visitors annually (according to the Times Square Alliance), was named this month as the “World’s Most Popular Tourist Attraction,” based solely on the number of annual visitors.
The magazine has unveiled its list of the 50 most popular tourist attractions in world this month, on its web site, www.travelandleisure.com. The list is based on 2009 and 2010 figures provided by the attractions themselves, and local tourism groups.
It paints an interesting — and somewhat surprising — picture of where people are going on their global travels. The Great Pyramids of Giza, for instance, didn’t even make the list. Two train stations (Union Station, in Washington D.C., and Grand Central Terminal, in New York City), however, made the top 10, with the magazine attributing some of that popularity to the architecture of the facilities. I suspect they included the number of commuters using the stations strictly for transportation purposes, as well, though.
One somewhat local attraction — the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, in Tennessee — is ranked No. 25, with 9.46 million people visiting annually. That puts it ahead of The Great Wall of China (ranked No. 26, with 9 million visitors); the Eiffel Tower (ranked No. 35, with 6.7 million visitors), and the Colosseum (ranked No. 46, with 5.11 million visitors).
Nine of the Top 10 attractions are in the United States (with one attraction, No. 5 Niagara Falls, being shared with Canada).
Not surprisingly, Walt Disney World, in Orlando, ranks as the most popular attraction in the Southeastern United States, with 16.97 million people visiting the theme park on an annual basis. It is actually one of the world’s most popular attractions, ranking No. 8 on the “Travel + Leisure” list. Several other Orlando theme parks, including a few other Disney parks, Seaworld and Universal Studios, are sprinkled in at various other points on the top 50 list.
Nothing in Georgia made the list, however. But, two attractions in New Orleans — Bourbon Street and the French Market — were ranked at Nos. 37 and 43, respectively.
And, in case you’re wondering, I have personally visited 10 of the Top 15 sites on the list.
The Top 10 most popular tourists attractions in the world (according to the list) are:
• No. 1: Times Square, in New York City, with 39.2 million people visiting annually.
• No. 2: Central Park, also in New York City, with 38 million visitors.
• No. 3: Union Station, in Washington D.C., with 37 million visitors.
• No. 4: The Las Vegas Strip, in Las Vegas, Nev., with 29.47 million visitors.
• No. 5: Niagara Falls, in New York and Ontario, Canada, with 22.5 million visitors.
• No. 6: Grand Central Terminal, in New York City, with 21.6 million visitors.
• No. 7: Faneuil Hall Marketplace, in Boston, Mass., with 18 million visitors.
• No. 8: Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Fla., with 16.97 million visitors.
• No. 9: Disneyland, in Anaheim, Calif., with 15.98 million visitors.
• No. 10: The Grand Bazaar, in Istanbul, Turkey, with 15 million visitors.
Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.