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The World’s Most Popular Tourist Destinations

If money was no object, what’s the number one place on your ‘must see’ list? We’re sure you have your own thoughts and ideas but what about the billion or so tourists who travel every year? Where do they all go? Google ‘world’s top tourist destinations’ and you’ll find list after list, but would you be surprised not to see one British tourist site or even the Eiffel Tower?  Of course you would, and we bet you’ll NEVER guess what’s at number one!

Every year, dozens of tourist websites publish lists of the world’s most popular and most visited tourist destinations and you’d think that places like the British Museum (6.7m annual visitors), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (6.3m) and the Colosseum in Rome (5.1m) would be way up the list but they don’t even make the top 50.

colosseum-rome

Colosseum in Rome © Gary Ullah

Not surprisingly, there are four Disney parks in the top 20 (Orlando, California, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea) as well as 15 other theme parks in the top 50 and the list we are referring to was published by tourism site Travel + Leisure.

The numbers are based on data supplied by various government agencies and industry reports such as the Global Attractions Attendance Report. The report came hot on the heels of the annual ‘state of global tourism’ report by the World Tourist Organisation which (for 2013) said that there was a 5% y-o-y growth (an additional 52m tourists) bringing the total up to a staggering 1.087bn – around 1 in 7 of the world’s population.

disney-magic-kingdom

Disney World Magic Kingdom © Joe Penniston

The report said that the biggest growth in international tourism came from Asia, Africa and Europe but not surprisingly the most visited region in the world is Europe with 563m visitors in 2013 (52% of the world’s tourist market) followed by the Americas with 169m visitors and Africa with 56m.

There are a few caveats. Travel + Leisure define tourist attractions as ‘cultural and historical sites, natural landmarks, and officially designated spaces’ so whilst specific areas such as the Las Vegas Strip make the list, shopping malls, beaches, bridges and sites that attract almost exclusively religious pilgrims such as Mecca for the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage and Sabarimala for the Ayyappan Saranam Hindu pilgrimage to Kerala, India were omitted despite welcoming many tens of millions of annual visitors.

Some sites are naturally restricted by their accessibility. Yellowstone National Park (3.2m) takes a special effort to get to, as does the Terracotta Army in Xi’an, China (4.8m) and Machu Picchu in Peru which has a restriction of 2,500 entries a day, or 912,500 annually.

machu-picchu

Machu Picchu © Dennis Jarvis

From 50 to 25, you’ll find the usual suspects of the Taj Mahal (7-8m); Bourbon Street in New Orleans (7.47m); the Sydney Opera House (8.2m); the Louvre in Paris (9.33m) and the Great Wall of China (10.7m), but what sites make the coveted Top 25? How many have you been to? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

25. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City – 11m
24.  Epcot, Disney World, Florida, USA – 11.2m
23. San Antonio River Walk, Texas, USA – 11.5m
22. South Street Seaport, New York, USA – 12m
21. Balboa Park, San Diego, USA – 12-14m
20. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, USA – 13m
19. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France – 14m
18. Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo, Japan – 14.1m
17. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, USA – 14.28m
16. Forbidden City, Beijing, China – 15.3m
15. Disneyland, Anaheim, USA – 16.2m
14. Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo, Japan – 17.2m
13. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, USA – 18m
12. Disney World, Orlando, USA – 18.5m
11. Basilica of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, Mexico City, Mexico – 20m
10. Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA – 21.6m
9. Niagara Falls, New York, USA & Ontario, Canada – 22m
=7. Sensoji Temple, Tokyo, Japan – 30m
=7. Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo, Japan – 30m
6. Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, USA – 30.5m
=4. Union Station, Washington DC, USA – 40m
=4. Central Park, New York, USA – 40m
3. Times Square, New York, USA – 50m
2. The Zócalo, Mexico City, Mexico – 85m
1. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey – 91.2m

grand-bazaar-istanbul

Grand Bazaar Istanbul © Pedro Szekely

See, we told you you’d never guess what was at number one! The Grand Bazaar is a 15th century market famous the world over for hand-painted ceramics, beautifully intricate carpets, Byzantine jewellery, copperware and of course Turkey’s famous coffee. A drink so important to the country it has been designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turkey, described as ‘the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage’.

By Rob at 15 Oct 2015

The Euracom Guide to Monopoly – The Oranges!

As we move around the Monopoly board, it seems that some of the sets were put together at random and some were chosen by association. As we come to the end of the second side, the oranges have a clear link; they are all connected by the law. Bow Street is most famous for the Magistrate’s Court; Marlborough Street also had a Magistrate’s Court and Vine Street had a police station, once one of the busiest in the world.

Millions and millions of people play Monopoly in all its various guises and we all have our favourite sets – a straw poll in the Euracom office suggested that Rob likes the four stations, Richard likes the ‘greens’ of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, Joe likes the blues because they’re close to his beloved Arsenal and Kelly likes the purples of Park Lane and Mayfair. However, if winning the game is your sole aim, the oranges are statistically your best bet. Why? Well, the ‘jail’ corner (including Just Visiting) is the single most visited square and the most frequently thrown dice scores are 6, 7, 8 and 9. You can see where we’re going with this…

Bow Street (£180); Rent: £14; 1 House £70; 2 Houses £200; 3 Houses £550; 4 Houses £750; Hotel £950

Bow Street in Covent Garden was constructed in 1633 by Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford and was given the name ‘bow’ purely because of the shape of the road. The most notable resident around this time was ‘Roundhead’ Oliver Cromwell and in the 18th century, Bow Street was associated with the pornography trade but the most famous building on the short thoroughfare was the Bow Street Magistrates’ Court, established in 1740.

bow-street-magistrates-court

Bow Street Magistrates Court © Matt Brown

The most well-known magistrates’ court in England for most of its 266-year existence, one of the first ‘habitual’ disorders they sought to stop was crime as a result of gin consumption. In order to tackle these crimes, magistrate Henry Fielding brought together eight reliable constables to make arrests and serve writs. Known initially as ‘Mr Fielding’s People’ their reputation for honesty and efficiency earned them the famous moniker the ‘Bow Street Runners’.

This group, the first uniformed police unit in Britain, soon became more organised and was the precursor to the Metropolitan Police.

A series of famous names passed through Bow Street Magistrates’ Court including playwright Oscar Wilde (who ordered tea, toast and eggs from the Tavistock Hotel to be delivered to his cell), murderer Dr Crippen, suffragettes Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, Chilean dictator General Pinochet, 60s crime bosses Ronnie & Reggie Kray and most recently, radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza.

The court closed for good in 2006 and was converted in to a boutique hotel and today, Bow Street is most famous as the location of the Royal Opera House.

Marlborough Street (£180); Rent: £14; 1 House £70; 2 Houses £200; 3 Houses £550; 4 Houses £750; Hotel £950

Marlborough Street is in Soho running west to east from the junction of Regent Street at its western end. At the eastern end it becomes Noel Street.

It was developed in the early years of the 18th century as Great Marlborough Street and was so named for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, the commander of the English Army. At first, the street was a very fashionable place to live but as the 19thcentury came around, it became, as it remains, a commercial street with perhaps its most famous resident being the instantly recognisable black and white Tudor beams of Liberty.

gt-marlborough-street

Great Marlborough Street © Stig Nygaard

Like Bow Street, Marlborough Street was well known for its magistrates’ court where famous defendants in cases heard there include The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones and Beatle John Lennon.

The musical connection continues with the HQ of Sony Music and well-known classical and jazz record store Harold Moores Records but early in the 20th century it was a hub for the automotive industry.

Vine Street (£200); Rent £16; 1 House £80; 2 Houses £220; 3 Houses £600; 4 Houses £800; Hotel £1,000

Even though today Vine Street is a 70-ft long dead end, it also has a fascinating crime-based history. We know for sure that the street was named after an 18th century pub called The Vine but further to that, it’s thought that there may have been a vineyard in or around the locale in Roman times but try as we might, we can’t verify that factoid.

Around 1750, a court house was built at the western end but closed in 1836 when the court system in Westminster was overhauled and in about 1767, Vine Street Police Station was built. Originally intended as a watch-house, a school operated on the first floor and there were two cells in the basement.

It went on to become one of London’s major police stations and one of the busiest in the world in the 19th century and it closed in 1940. As foot traffic in the area increased, it was re-opened in 1966 but closed for good as recently as 1997.

De Dion-Bouton, once the largest car manufacturer in the world had a showroom at number 10 and at 45, residents included United Motor Industries and Charles Jarrott & Letts, concessionaires for de Dietrich, Oldsmobile and Napier cars.

vine-street

Vine Street London © Howard Lake

The most famous activity at the Vine Street Police Station occurred in 1895 and it involved John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensbury, the man who gave his name to the rules that form the basis of boxing, and Oscar Wilde.

Angered by an apparent homosexual relationship between Wilde and his son Alfred, Queensbury referred to Wilde as a ‘Sodomite’ and Wilde then sued him for criminal libel. During the court case, Queensbury’s barrister portrayed Wilde as a vicious older man who preyed on young boys and Wilde quickly dropped the case when he was informed that Queensbury’s legal team intended to call on several male prostitutes to testify that he was indeed promiscuous.

Queensbury then issued a counterclaim against Wilde for the huge amounts of money incurred in organising a defence and appointing a legal team which he won, leaving Wilde bankrupt. He was subsequently sentenced to two years’ ‘hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed’ first in Pentonville Prison and then in Wandsworth Prison after being charged and convicted of gross indecency.

With his health and reputation in tatters, he exiled himself to France and died at the Hotel d’Alsace in Paris in November 1900.

Back to Vine Street and today, it is nothing more than a nondescript dead-end populated predominantly with the rear facades of properties facing other streets.

By Rob at 15 Oct 2015

The Euracom Guide to Monopoly – The Pinks!

As an avid reader of our newsletter, you’ll know by now that Monopoly, perhaps the best-known board game of all time, was introduced in the 1930s. It has endured the evolution of computer games and smart phones and is a Christmas Day, post-lunch staple and while you will know many of the streets, stations and roads, there’s quite a few that won’t be at the top of a tourist’s itinerary…

Here’s the story of ‘the pinks’…

Pall Mall (£140); Rent: £10; 1 House: £50; 2 Houses: £150; 3 Houses: £450; 4 Houses: £625; Hotel £750

The first street in London to be illuminated by gaslight on June 4th 1807, Pall Mall was so named for a seventeenth century French precursor to croquet that was played in St. James’s Park called palle-maille by the likes of the Duke of York and King Charles II.

Pall Mall runs parallel to The Mall, from St. James’s Street to Haymarket and is designated the A4. A road was present during Saxon times but the earliest recorded mention was from the 12th century in connection with St. James’s Hospital, a leper colony. Pall Mall as we know it today was opened to the public in September 1661 and was originally called Catherine Street after Queen Catherine of Braganza, the wife of King Charles II.

Pall Mall

Under the auspices of the Streets, London and Westminster Act 1662, Pall Mall was one of a number of important London streets ‘thought fitt (sic) immediately to be repaired, new paved or otherwise amended’ and in the next five years, the area that became known as St. James’s was extensively developed, intended for the moneyed classes, including royalty. A number of prominent buildings were constructed including St. James’s Palace, Marlborough House and Buckingham House (which isn’t to be confused with the Buckingham House that became Buckingham Palace).

Pall Mall also had a strong, albeit very brief, art scene. The Royal Academy, the National Gallery and auction house Christie’s were located on the street but none lasted very long.

Today, Pall Mall, even though it is a major London thoroughfare, remains a relatively quiet bastion of great British conservatism and is home to a number of famous ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ including The Athenaeum, the Army & Navy Club, the Oxford & Cambridge Club, the Royal Automobile Club and the Reform Club. The latter was from where Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg set out on his ‘around the world in 80 days’ journey.

Whitehall (£140); Rent: £10; 1 House: £50; 2 Houses: £150; 3 Houses: £450; 4 Houses: £625; Hotel £750

Named for the Palace of Whitehall before it was gutted by fire in 1698, Whitehall has become synonymous as the location of a number of government ministries and departments including the Admiralty Buildings, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Health, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Downing Street, the home of the Prime Minister.

It was originally a very wide road leading to the front of the palace and Trafalgar Square was developed at its northern end at the start of the nineteenth century. The Whitehall we see today was developed around the same time and the only surviving section of the palace is Banqueting House which was built by noted architect Inigo Jones in 1622.

horseguards_parade

Scotland Yard was originally located at the north-eastern end of the street before relocating to the Embankment in 1890 and twice a day, the Changing of the Guard takes place at Horse Guards Parade in front of the magnificent, grade I listed Palladian-style building where, interestingly, the reigning monarch is the only person allowed to drive though the central archway.

Because of its long association with government and especially the various branches of the armed forces, Whitehall is lined with memorials to war heroes and politicians including the Cenotaph, Britain’s primary war memorial.

Alongside the pomp and circumstance of government, towards the Trafalgar Square there is the usual proliferation of pubs, eateries and shops aimed squarely at passing tourists fresh from the Changing of the Guard!

Northumberland Avenue (£160); Rent: £12; 1 House: £60; 2 Houses: £180; 3 Houses: £500; 4 Houses: £700; Hotel £900

In the early seventeenth century, the Earl of Northampton built Northumberland House on the site of what was the Chapel and Hospital of St. Mary Rounceval at Charing Cross. It was an extensive property running down to the Thames but in 1768 it was damaged during the Wilkes’ Election Riots. John Wilkes, radical, libertine, sometime pornographic poet and the first elected MP in 1757 was expelled from parliament on the grounds he was an outlaw (he was tried and found guilty in absentia of obscene libel and seditious libel in 1764) and this prompted violent scenes.

Imprisoned soon after his election in the King’s Bench Prison in Southwark, his supporters appeared in court chanting ‘no liberty, no King’ and troops opened fire, killing seven unarmed men in what became known as the St George’s Field Massacre.

During the ensuing riots, part of Northumberland House was damaged and to funnel rioters away from the house, the Duke quickly built the Ship Ale House!

Northumberland Avenue is a wide carriageway which is made to look even wider by a clever architectural trompe l’oeil whereby planning permissions forbade buildings from being taller than the road is wide.

The famous Playhouse Theatre opened in 1882 and it was here where Sir Alec Guinness (Colonel Nicholson in Bridge on the River Kwai if you’re old enough, Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars if you’re young enough) first trod the boards. The Beatles recorded a number of sessions at the Playhouse in the early 60s.

PLayhouse Theatre: La Cage Aux Folles, London

By the 1930s, Northumberland Avenue was playing second-fiddle to Park Lane and Piccadilly as the tourists’ hotel destination of choice and the buildings were sold on to other businesses. Today, it’s a street full of faceless corporate buildings, retail HQs and events locations.

By Rob at 15 Sep 2015

The Queen Reigns Supreme – 63 Years, 217 Days and Counting…!

Today, The Queen, or to give her her official title, Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, becomes the longest-reigning monarch in the 1,000+ year history of the British monarchy but she says it will be ‘business as usual’. Should we be celebrating?

Queen Elizabeth is about to overtake her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest reigning monarch.  Victoria reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes and Elizabeth breaks the 114 year-old record today. She is also the oldest reigning monarch in the world at 89 years-old after 90 year-old King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died in January.

Surely today is a day for celebrating such an impressive achievement? Apparently not according to the official word from the Palace.  There will be no gold coaches, no commemorative stamps, no street parties, no Red Arrows fly-bys and no Union Jack-adorned cardboard periscopes poking out from behind railings on The Mall. She will spend the day at Balmoral Castle with her family.

HM the Queen with Soldiers of the Coldstream Guards

The Royal Mint is releasing five versions of a limited edition £20 coin depicting The Queen as she has aged on our coinage but as far as we can tell, there’s not much else happening.

In the UK, there are people who love the Royal Family and what they stand for and those who consider them to be an antiquated establishment who have no place in modern society but as the longest reigning monarch of the 40 monarchs since the Norman Conquest, let’s take a moment to reflect what the royals, and the Queen in particular, have done for this country.

Buckingham Palace attracts over 15 million visitors a year; it’s estimated that the eight royal parks attracted close to 80 million visitors in 2013-14 and millions more come to Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle and St. James’s Palace. We have an incredibly rich royal heritage and their very presence is vital to draw visitors to the UK.

MORE THAN A THOUSAND SOLDIERS ON PARADE THE BIRTHDAY OF HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN TO CELEBRATE

The Queen has given her life to public service. Barely a day goes by without an official engagement, state dinner or royal occasion and if she doesn’t want a fuss made of the fact that she’s the longest serving monarch in British history then it’s something we as a nation should respect. She is, according to royal author Matthew Dennison, ‘the most popular figure in British public life, acclaimed by world leaders and admired across the globe’ and few can argue.

If you went to or saw even a few minutes of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012, you’ll know how much she is adored by the British public. More than a million people with aforementioned cardboard periscopes filled The Mall with an audience of billions on TV. Whatever you’re doing today, take a minute to think about The Queen, recently described by Tobias Ellwood MP as ‘a reassuring and enduring source of stability, security and inspiration; a permanent anchor in a fast-moving world’.

If you’re one of the millions coming to London this year, don’t forget that Euracom has a fantastic choice of apartments in London to suit all budgets and when you’re here, don’t forget to pay The Queen a visit, she’ll be delighted to see you!

Just for fun, here are some surprising facts about The Queen!

  • She speaks fluent French and doesn’t use interpreters for audiences or state occasions
  • She’s the only person in Britain who can drive without a licence or number plates
  • She has sent over 175,000 telegrams and letters to people turning 100
  • The first football match she attended was the 1953 FA Cup Final
  • During her reign there’s been seven Archbishops of Canterbury, seven Popes and 12 Prime Ministers
  • She is 5’4”, or 1m 60cm
  • Her first Corgi, a gift for her 18th birthday, was called Susan
  • As a child, her nickname was Lilibet – she couldn’t pronounce Elizabeth properly
  • She is the only British monarch in history trained to change a spark plug
By Rob at 9 Sep 2015

International Students in London – You Are FANTASTIC For Britain!

It’s August. The likelihood is that you are either a) on holiday in the sun surrounded by boat parties, booze and loud music, b) volunteering on a children’s camp or preserving an ancient Inca site in deepest, darkest Peru, c) working in a pub or d) asleep, but when it’s time to get back into the lecture hall as an international student, what effect are you having on the economy? The answer may surprise a lot of people…

First, let’s start with the numbers (all from 2013-14, the most recent available figures courtesy of the UK Council for International Student Affairs – www.ukcisa.org.uk):

  • There are over 435,000 international students in the UK from all over the world including almost 273,000 ‘new’ or first year students
  • The most represented nationality is China with 87,895 students, followed by India with 19,750
  • University College London has the largest number of international students in the UK with 11,850
  • 38.7% study Business & Administration followed by Engineering & Technology (32.7%) and Law (25%)
  • The male/female split is virtually identical, with 50.9% female and 49.1% male

If you’re in that number and you’re coming to London, it’s not too late to find your perfect apartment. All you need to do is browse our selection of student accommodation in London and contact us!

Welcome to London

The fact is that the UK (and London in particular), needs international students. A report by business lobby London First and PwC, one of the world’s largest firms of auditors aimed for the first time to economically quantify the costs and benefits of non-EU international students studying at London’s universities to London’s and the UK’s economy.

There has long been an argument centered on anti-immigration rhetoric that close to half a million international students coming to the UK every year put an unnecessary – and to some, unwanted – strain on public services and housing.

That argument, while still being waged, has been proven to be redundant. The report found that non-EU international students contribute £2.8bn to the economy made up of fees (£1.32bn), consumer and subsistence spending (£1.36bn) and £121m from visiting friends and family as well as supporting over 70,000 London jobs. The cost of providing them with public services such as the NHS costs the UK £540m, a net gain of £2.26bn.

The Head of Global Immigration at PwC, Julia Onslow-Cole said: ‘While politicians recognise the importance of international students, there has been considerable debate over the economic value.’

She continued: ‘This is the first study to quantify the benefits of student migration. We need more hard data like this to inform immigration policies and targets. The £2.3bn benefit of international students illustrates there is a huge amount at stake.’

In addition to the obvious financial benefits, 60% of students surveyed suggested that they were ‘more likely’ to do business in and with the UK as a direct result of studying here and in today’s lightning fast  global economy, that is not something to be underestimated.

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While good news on one hand, the report also offers a word of warning. It’s no secret that the abovementioned anti-immigration rhetoric is gaining a modicum of traction and a third of students interviewed said that the immigration system in the UK is so complex it had a negative impact on their experience of studying here, as did the difficulty in finding employment after finishing degrees.

One of the issues is that non-EU international students are included in the government’s net migration figures and are not, like Australia and Canada, classified as ‘temporary visitors’ hence the anti-immigration rhetoric. There is a real fear that the top students who have the luxury of picking and choosing the best universities around the world will avoid the UK.

We also need to make it easier for students to stay in the UK and work after the completion of their studies. The current rules state that students need to work for a single employer and earn a minimum salary of £20,800.

These are issues the government appear to be taking seriously. The bottom line is that we have some of the finest universities in the world and we need to attract the brightest and the best by offering a far more welcoming and inclusive climate. International students are a huge boon for the UK and they make a valuable and lasting contribution.

Don’t forget, you can still find excellent student accommodation in London! Search our portfolio of properties here and then call us on 020 8420 4666 or emailinfo@euracom.co.uk

By Rob at 14 Aug 2015

There are 57 items on 12 pages.