With Titanic Belfast crowned Europe’s best tourist attraction, here are some of the world-class hotspots it beat to the title
Life & Style

With Titanic Belfast crowned Europe’s best tourist attraction, here are some of the world-class hotspots it beat to the title

THE Titanic Belfast centre sailed away from its competition on Sunday night to be crowned Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the prestigious World Travel Awards.

It marks the first time a Northern Irish attraction has won the award in the 23-year history of the ‘Tourism Oscars’ — which, for 2016, were held in Sardinia, Italy.

Having only last month welcomed its three-millionth visitor, Titanic Belfast boasts impressive figures, with visitors from 145 different countries having enjoyed the museum since its opening in March 2012 and over 338,000 Titanic-themed postcards sold.

John McGrillen, Tourism NI chief, said: “The Titanic Belfast has exceeded our expectations in terms of creating a step change for tourism in Northern Ireland and a catalyst for wider economic growth in Belfast and beyond.”

So who did Titanic Belfast beat to take the title? Here are the nominees the Titanic Belfast was up against:

Acropolis, Athens, Greece

[Picture: Wikipedia Commons] The Acropolis began construction in the fifth century BC [Picture: Wikipedia Commons]
The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient Greek citadel comprised of several structures, the most famous of which being the Parthenon.

The Acropolis Restoration Project began in 1975 and as of 2016 is nearing completion.

Between June 2015 and May 2016, the site’s dedicated museum boasted of some 4,000 visitors a day and an impressive 1,425,100 overall.

Buckingham Palace, England

[Picture: Wikipedia Commons] Buckingham Palace has played host to many state occasions over the years [Picture: Wikipedia Commons]
The Queen’s residence welcomed some 506,305 visitors in 2015, the fourth-highest figure in 22 years.

The Palace won Best Heritage Experience for Groups at the inaugural European Group Travel Awards in Berlin in March.

Buckingham Palace was beaten by Windsor Castle, which in the same period welcomed a massive 1,328,560 visitors.

Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

[Picture: Wikipedia Commons] Dublin's Guinness Storehouse has become popular among celebrities recently [Picture: Wikipedia Commons]
A host of Hollywood stars have been known to visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, which welcomed a record 1,400,000 tourists last year.

Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Will Ferrell, Susan Sarandon, Chris Rock and Adam Sandler have all taken a sip at the Irish hotspot recently.

2015 saw an 18 per cent increase in visitors, with the Storehouse retaining its spot as Ireland’s number one tourist destination.

La Sagrada Familia, Spain

[Picture: Wikipedia Commons] Sagrada Familia will have taken 144 years to build when it is completed in 2026 [Picture: Wikipedia Commons]
Visitors to the La Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona have become so numerous that the city’s mayor last summer announced plans to introduce a tourist cap to control visitor numbers and 'stop the city from becoming Venice'.

La Sagrada Familia is now the number-one tourist attraction in Barcelona, welcoming over 3 million visitors a year.

Eiffel Tower, France

[Picture: Wikipedia Commons] The Eiffel Tower was initially disliked by locals upon its 1889 construction [Picture: Wikipedia Commons]
Visitors to the showpiece of Paris numbered 6.91 million last year, making the Eiffel Tower the world’s most visited monument.

Constructed in 1889 for the 1889 World’s Fair, it’s little known that the tower was initially reviled by many locals for its strange design.

Since then however, the Eiffel Tower has become a global cultural symbol of France and is central to tourism in the country.

The Roman Colosseum, Italy

[Picture: Wikipedia Commons] Rome's Colosseum is officially named the Flavian Amphitheater [Picture: Wikipedia Commons]
The Colosseum fell into disrepair after its ancient heyday, but a restoration effort begun in 2011 is expected to be completed this year.

Back in the days of the gladiators, the Colosseum was capable of accommodating up to 80,000 spectators.

Last year, an all-time record of 6,551,046 visitors graced the Colosseum, making Titanic Belfast’s achievement all the more impressive.