There are several websites that track the world’s most visited attractions. One that grabbed my attention was by Katie Hammel for farandwide.com. Rating tourist attractions by number of visitors, Hammel listed the top 50 in the world. She updated the list as recently as 7/31/20 but may have to revise and rerank them in 2021.
Hammel’s list is something of a shock. Most of the attractions are in the USA with almost every attraction in Orlando, FL making her list. None are in Africa. However, a large number of them are in Asia with 3 in Hong Kong alone. I have never heard of the 2 that are in South Korea–Lotte World and Everland Resort. Not surprisingly, there are none on the list in North Korea, which is on few tourist lists of fun places to visit. Everland ranks #40 and reportedly attracts 6.8 million visitors per year.
Despite my vow never to write about the world’s most popular attractions like Niagara Falls, which ranks #5 and usually experiences 22.5 million visitors each year, Ruth and I have been to 27 of the 50. In my own defense, we went to many of them before I began travel writing. You will not find reviews of Disneyland and Versailles on my blog. Some of the 27 include #38, the Eiffel Tower, # 25, Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), and Grand Central Terminal in New York City, #6. We have not actually been on the Eiffel Tower because the day we were there it was closed due to snow and ice. The last time we tried to enter GSMNP, we were in a line of cars that seemed to stretch into infinity. It was a sunny Sunday near the end of Smoky’s good weather season at a place that Hammel says attracts 9.6 million sightseers every year now. We made a U-turn and fled. We always go to Grand Central while in New York City because we love the original Oyster Bar there for special occasions.
So, why do I think that Hammel might need to revise her list? Because of COVID-19, several of New York City’s most visited attractions see far fewer out-of-towners. Every photo of Times Square I have seen lately has shown it virtually deserted. Entry was barred on New Year’s Eve for the dropping of the newly-crystalized ball to welcome 2021. Hammel’s #1 attraction was the Las Vegas Strip. According to her, 39.6 million people saw it per year to make it the top attraction in the world. On January 11, 2021, the Governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, announced measures that will be in place for at least another 30 days and include full-time mask wearing, restaurants and bars operating at 25% occupancy, and no large public gatherings. Notre Dame in Paris is ranked #13 on Hammel’s list despite the fact that tourists can’t go inside it at the present time because of the fire on 4/15/19.
On farandwide.com, however, the Katie Hammel article is followed by a report on overtourism by Lissa Poirot. Its thrust is, “How Not Traveling Is Helping the Planet”. It’s dated 4/3/2020. How can people pass up the chance to see the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul that once attracted 15 million visitors per year?