Hazel Plush, travel writer
Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic exhibition, has been named Europe’s Leading Visitor Attraction at the World Travel Awards 2016. The project, which occupies the same spot where the Titanic was built and launched, pipped the likes of the Acropolis, Eiffel Tower and La Sagrada Familia to the top spot.
With interactive exhibits, artefacts, replica cabins, and nine galleries of artwork, photographs and designs, the attraction celebrates the building – and commemorates the sinking – of the Titanic. It has attracted more than three million visitors since it opened in 2012, on the 100th anniversary of the ship’s demise, and VIP guests have included the Queen, Hillary Clinton, and Titanic film director James Cameron.
“After only four years in operation, to be recognised and beat off stiff competition from Europe’s most iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Roman Colosseum is a true honour,” said Titanic Belfast Chief Executive, Tim Husbands. “We know what we offer at Titanic Belfast is special – the enduring story of Titanic captures hearts and minds throughout the world.”
According to a World Travel Awards spokesman, 228,251 votes were cast by the public and travel industry professionals for the Europe’s Leading Visitor Attraction category. “A standard [public] vote carries a weighting of one, while votes cast by verified travel professionals carry a weighting of two.”
“For Titanoraks, as they’re known, [Titanic Belfast’s] galleries provide a feast of detail,” wrote Telegraph Travel’s Northern Ireland expert Fionnuala McHugh when she reviewed Belfast Titanic in 2012. “If you want to know exactly how a ship is put together, then this is the place for you. You can also see the staterooms, and second and third-class cabins, although these are, oddly, hemmed in behind glass.”
The World Travel Awards, which are now in their 23rd year, are divided up by continent – with the overall global winners crowned at a final gala event in the Maldives in December.
As Europe’s Leading Visitor Attraction, Titanic Belfast is automatically shortlisted for World’s Leading Attraction – and the rest of the shortlist will be announced at the Asia and Australasia ceremony which takes place in Vietnam on October 15.
Last year, Las Vegas’s casino strip was named World’s Leading Attraction, beating off competition from Cambodia’s Angkor temples, Machu Picchu in Peru, and Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse.