Move over the Eiffel Tower, better luck next time the Colosseum, because it’s Titanic Belfast which has been crowned the best tourist attraction in Europe at the World Travel Awards.
It’s the first time that anywhere in Northern Ireland has won the accolade in the 23-year history of the awards, dubbed the “Tourism Oscars” (although unfortunately there were no appearances from George Clooney this year).
The museum opened in 2012, and is a six-floor building featuring nine interpretive and interactive galleries exploring the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Titanic, as well as celebrating the city and the people who built the doomed ocean liner.
Among the three million visitors from 145 different countries who have passed through its doors are the Queen, US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Titanic film director James Cameron and celebrities such as Adele and Michael Buble.
Tim Husbands, chief executive of Titanic Belfast, said: “After only four years in operation, to be recognised and beat off stiff competition from Europe’s most iconic landmarks is a true honour.
“We know what we offer at Titanic Belfast is something our city and country can be proud of and are so pleased that this has been recognised on an international level.”
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said it was a “phenomenal achievement” to have won. “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,” he said.
Last year, the coveted award was presented to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
Titanic Belfast was also recently included in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist of 500 of the world’s most striking locations. It will now go on to compete for the title of world’s leading attraction at a ceremony in the Maldives later this year.