In the last 12 hours, quite by coincidence, I learned about the least and most visited destinations in the world.
If you like maps, you’ll love Maphead, Jeopardy champion Ken Jenning’s book about them and everything related to them. Late last night I was reading Chapter 8, MEANDER, about passionate travelers (like me) who set crazy personal goals, like visiting the highest point in every state. They range from Britton Hill, Florida’s highest point at 345 feet, to Alaska’s Denali, 20,320 feet. Actually, many have accomplished this feat with their feet.
Jennings writes about the Travelers’ Century Club that “has expanded the world’s list of ‘countries’ to 319” and identifies Charles Veley, one of its members, as the world’s most traveled man. Veley’s biggest challenge was to land on the least visited destination in the world, Rockall. I never heard of it and, of course, went right to my world atlas and, sure enough, there it was, west of Scotland & south of Iceland. Jennings describes it as “…a ninety-foot-wide skerry in the North Atlantic…a barren volcano, poking seventy feet above the sea four hundred miles from anywhere….” The number of previous visitors before Veley? 12
So, what’s the most visited world attraction? I planned to write about the other C states besides California today and started remembering & researching Colorado. I figured it would have at least one of the world’s most crowded destinations. Surprise No. 1. No Colorado attraction even made the top fifty according to Travel & Leisure magazine. T& L apparently published its research on this topic in October, 2011. Surprise No. 2. Nine of the top ten “world” attractions are in the United States. Surprise number 3. The single non-US attraction in the top ten was totally unexpected.
One through nine are: New York’s Times Square with more than 39,000,000 annual visitors, New York’s Central Park, Washington, DC’s Union Station, The Las Vegas Strip, Niagara Falls, New York’s Grand Central Terminal (have a great seafood dinner in its vast Oyster Bar/Restaurant), Boston’s Faneuil Hall, Disney World in Orlando, Disneyland in Anaheim, and, the Taj Mahal? No. The Eiffel Tower? No, that’s No. 35 with 6, 700,000 yearly visitors. It’s the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey, which draws an amazing 15,000,000 visitors each year in search of jewelry, carpets, etc.
Surprise No 4. I was pretty shocked to find that a notable regional attraction placed No. 21–Seattle’s Pike Place Market. No. 21, in the world! I must conclude that fish throwing pays off.
I’ll write about Colorado, still a remarkable travel contender in my mind, and Maphead (I’ve almost memorized Chapter 4) soon.