Titanic Belfast has been named Europe’s number one visitor attraction, beating the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the title this year.
The prestigious World Travel Awards, known as the Tourism Oscars, was held in Sardinia, Italy on Sunday night. Titanic Belfast also fought off stiff competition for the top spot from the Acropolis in Athens, Buckingham Palace in London, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and the Roman Colosseum.
Titanic Belfast now goes forward to the Maldives on December 12, where it is in the running for the title of World’s Leading Attraction.
The Belfast center, completed four years ago to mark the centenary of the Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage, is on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard where the ship was built.
It tells the stories of the Titanic, which hit an iceberg and sank during her maiden voyage in 1912, and her sister ships RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic.
Titanic Belfast chief executive Tim Husbands said it was an “honor” to have won the award after just four years in operation.
Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster said, “In just four short years, Titanic Belfast has become an iconic tourist attraction, attracting over three million visitors from all over the world. Titanic Belfast is now a global brand which has put Northern Ireland on the map for all the right reasons. The official confirmation that it is now Europe’s leading tourist attraction is well deserved.”
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness added, “Titanic Belfast being voted Europe’s leading visitor attraction is a phenomenal achievement. The story of the Titanic is known around the globe and it is only right and proper we have a world class visitor attraction to match.”
It’s not the first time Titanic Belfast has stolen the top spot from the Eiffel Tower. It was named Europe’s Best Tourist Attraction for Groups at the European Group Travel Awards last year.
Visitors have included Queen Elizabeth of England, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and "Titanic" director James Cameron. Celebrities who have visited include Adele and Michael Bublé.
The center can hold over 3,547 visitors at any one time, the same number as the capacity of Titanic.
Since opening, it has sold 338,000 postcards and more than 20,000 Titanic snow globes.