Ever heard of Everland or Lotte World? Most Americans have never planned a trip to these South Korean theme parks, yet they rank among the world’s 50 most-visited tourist attractions—beating out the Great Pyramids (4 million), the Taj Mahal (3 million), and Stonehenge (1 million). And there are more surprises.
Where we choose to spend our vacation time says a lot about what we value, and despite—or perhaps because of—the lingering global economic crisis, we are traveling more than ever. International tourist arrivals were up 6.6 percent in 2010, according to the World Tourism Organization. China ousted Spain as the third most-visited country with 55.7 million foreign arrivals, while France and the U.S. held tight to their first- and second-place rankings.
Like it or not, theme parks are just as appealing in these countries as they are in South Korea. Disneyland Paris drew the same number of visitors (10.5 million) as Sacré-Coeur, and two of the world’s 10 most-visited tourist attractions are Disney parks. America also dominates our list. Some credit goes to the weak U.S. dollar, which drew 8.7 percent more foreign tourists in 2010 than the previous year—and likely persuaded many Americans to explore within our vast borders.
To tally up the world’s most-visited attractions, we gathered the most recent data supplied by the attractions themselves or from government agencies, industry reports, and reputable media outlets.
So what is the most-visited tourist attraction in the world? And can 39.2 million people be wrong? Read on to see the results.
Annual Visitors: 39,200,000
No. 2 Central Park, New York City
Annual Visitors: 38,000,000
No. 3 Union Station, Washington, D.C.
Annual Visitors: 37,000,000
No. 4 Las Vegas Strip
Annual Visitors: 29,467,000
No. 5 Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario
Annual Visitors: 22,500,000
Annual Visitors: 21,600,000
No. 7 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston
Annual Visitors: 18,000,000
Annual Visitors: 16,972,000
Annual Visitors: 15,980,000
No. 10 Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
Annual Visitors: 15,000,000