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The World's Most Visited Tourist Attraction Has Been Revealed

Picture of Luke Abrahams
Social Content Editor
Updated: 17 July 2017

If there’s one thing we all know, tourist attractions and landmarks make up at least 80% of our bucket lists. From waterfalls to regal palaces, deserts to world-famous clocks (shout out to Big Ben), a staggering 91 million people chose their holiday destination last year based on a particular country’s most famous landmark. 

According to the UN’s Word Tourism Organization (UNWTO) international tourism has sky-rocketed. In just the first four months of 2017 alone, destinations worldwide welcomed 369 million international tourists. A number of factors, including improved security, a destination’s affordability and the value of currency have all contributed to the tourism spike of late, but in essence, what people really want to do is tick an iconic landmark off their bucket lists. Right?

In an effort to tell the world which of these landmarks and tourist attractions nabbed the top spot, Travel + Leisure gathered all sorts of data from government agencies, industry reports and tourism agencies to compile a list of the world’s most visited tourist attractions.

In the results, the travel publisher defined tourist attractions as ‘cultural and historic sites, natural landmarks, and officially designated spaces’. Their reasoning was simple. A cultural hotspot is something like Boston’s shop-filled Faneuil Hall Marketplace (built in 1742), but sites such as the Mall of America (which had way more visitors) is not. The point? Boston made the cut because its of international and national significance, a reputation the Mall of America doesn’t have. Essentially, history and culture both reign supreme over commercial ideologies (shopping, in other words).

Beaches, bridges and religious sites designed exclusively for pilgrimages (such as Mecca) are also excluded from the results.

To many, the results will be surprising, but in the grand scale of things places like Big Ben just don’t have enough reliable data to show how many people went to Instagram it. Harsh, but true.

Check out the top 10 below:

10. Grand Central Terminal, New York City, USA…

© Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Number of visitors: 21,600,000

9. Niagara Falls, New York, USA and Ontario, Canada…

© TRphotos / Shutterstock

Number of visitors: 22,000,000

7. Sensoji Temple, Tokyo, Japan (tie with Meiji Jingu Shrine)…

© Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Number of visitors: 30,000,000

7. Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo, Japan (tie with Sensoji Temple)…

© Bule Sky Studio / Shutterstock

Number of visitors: 30,000,000

6. Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, USA…

© f11photo / Shutterstock

Number of visitors: 30,500,000

4. Union Station, Washington DC, USA (tie with Central Park)…

© Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock

Number of visitors: 40,000,000

4. Central Park, New York City, USA (tie with Union Station)…

© Melpomene / Shutterstock

Number of visitors: 40,000,000

3. Times Square, New York City, USA…

© Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Number of visitors: 50,000,000

2. The Zócalo, Mexico City, Mexico…

© Vincent St. Thomas / Shutterstock

Number of visitors: 85,000,000

1. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey…

© Luciano Mortula – LGM / Shutterstock

© Luciano Mortula – LGM / Shutterstock

Number of visitors: 91,250,000


 

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