Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Most-visited attractions in the world: Which list is more accurate?

Travel + Leisure magazine just issued its list of the 50 "World's Most-Visited Tourist Attractions."

It's a fascinating compilation. And should be taken with a suitcase of salt.

For example, I saw Boston's historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace coming in 7th internationally -- ahead of all the Florida theme parks except for one.

I love Boston and Faneuil Hall. But it's less than 400 square feet in area.

And somehow, the attendance numbers don't need to make sense, though the compilers of the T+L list  say that data is from "attractions themselves or from government agencies, industry reports, and reputable media outlets."

So I found another list ranking the top 50 attractions worldwide  that was posted at It says its information similarly is from "the attractions' own published figures (or internal data they would share), industry reports, government reports and other trustworthy media outlets."

Here -- you compare the lists for yourself. The rankings are in T+L  order; the lovehomeswap rank is in parentheses, to the right.

You'll start to note the differences -- and the gaps.

1. The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey  (11 on list)
2. The  Zócalo, Mexico City (21)
3. Times Square, New York (2)
4. (tie) Central Park, New York, (3)
4. (tie) Union Station, Washington, D.C. (4)             
6. Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas (1)
7.  (tie) Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo   
7. (tie) Sensoji Temple, Tokyo    
9. Niagara Falls (5)
10. Grand Central Terminal, New York (6)
11. Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City         
12. Disney World’s Magic KingdomOrlando, Fla. (8)            
13. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston (7)
14. Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo (12)
15. Disneyland Park, Anaheim, Calif.  (9)  
16. Forbidden City, Beijing (10)
17. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco
18. Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo (15)
19. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris (13)
20. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco (14)     
21. Balboa Park, San Diego
22. South Street Seaport, New York (29)            
23. San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio
24. Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  (17)         
25. St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
26. Great Wall of China (Badaling/Mutianyu areas), China (28)      
27. Sacré Coeur Basilica, Paris (18)
28. Disneyland ParkMarne-la-Vallée, France (16)
29. Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (22)
30. Disney's Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (23)
31. Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, Japan (24)
32. Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood, Calif. 
33. Pike Place Market, Seattle (20)     
34. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (25)
35. Musée du Louvre, Paris (27)
36. Navy Pier, Chicago (26)
37. Disney's California Adventure, Anaheim, Calif. (34)
38. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia (31)
39. Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla. (33)     
40. (tie) National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian), Washington,  D.C.   (32)      
40. (tie) Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand
40. (tie) Pier 39, San Francisco  (30)                                
43. Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France (49)           
44. Ocean Park, Hong Kong (35)        
45. Bourbon Street, New Orleans (47)
46. National Museum of China, Beijing
47. (tie) Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong  (41)
47. (tie) Lotte World, Seoul, South Korea (42)             
49. Everland, Gyeonggi-Do, South Korea (39)            
50. Taj Mahal, Agra, India  

Did you notice the discrepancies?

And on the list but not the T+L: Tsima Sha Tsui Waterfront in Hong Kong (19);  Victoria Peak, Hong Kong (36); National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian (37); The Eiffel Tower (38), the British Museum in London (40); Nevada's Lake Mead (43); Universal Studios Florida (44); New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (46); Universal Studios Hollywood (48) and Japan's Nagashima Spa Land (5).

Lesson: Lists will only get you so far. The originating data for either list here, for instance, is obviously quite up for grabs.

Both lists, by the way, said Faneuil Hall had 18 million visitors per year. And I'm still skeptical.


Garth Vader said...

The Faneuil numbers must be counting the entire marketplace complex and therefore all the retail and restaurant traffic.

Anonymous said...

All are tourist traps and you will never catch me at any of these.