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A tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited natural or cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, offering leisure, adventure, and amusement.
Natural beauty such as beaches, tropical island resorts with coral reefs, hiking and camping in national parks, mountains and forests, are examples of traditional tourist attractions to spend summer vacations. Other examples of cultural tourist attractions include historical places, monuments, ancient temples, zoos, aquaria, museums and art galleries, botanical gardens, buildings and structures (e.g., castles, libraries, former prisons, skyscrapers, bridges), theme parks and carnivals, living history museums, ethnic enclave communities, historic trains and cultural events. Many tourist attractions are also landmarks.
Tourist attractions are also created to capitalise on legends such as a supposed UFO crash site near Roswell, New Mexico and the alleged Loch Ness monster sightings in Scotland. Ghost sightings also make tourist attractions.
In the US, owners and marketers of attractions advertise tourist attractions on billboards along the side of highways and roadways, especially in remote areas. Tourist attractions often provide free promotional brochures and flyers in information centres, fast food restaurants, hotel and motel rooms or lobbies, and rest area.
While some tourist attractions provide visitors a memorable experience for a reasonable admission charge or even for free, others can have a tendency to be of low quality and to overprice their goods and services (such as admission, food, and souvenirs) in order to profit from tourists excessively. Such places are commonly known as tourist traps.
Novelty attractions are oddities such as the "biggest ball of twine" in Cawker City, Kansas, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, or Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska where old cars serve in the place of stones in a replica of Stonehenge. Novelty attractions are not limited to the American Midwest, but are part of Midwestern culture.
A tourist destination is a city, town, or other area that is dependent to a significant extent on the revenues accruing from tourism, or "a country, state, region, city, or town which is marketed or markets itself as a place for tourists to visit". It may contain one or more tourist attractions and possibly some "tourist traps." Siem Reap town for example is a popular tourist destination in Cambodia, mainly owed to its proximity to Angkor temples.
A tropical island resorts is an island or the archipelago that also depends of tourism as their source of revenue. The Bahamas in Caribbean archipelago, Bali in Indonesia, Phuket in Thailand, Hawaii, Palawan in the Philippines, and Fiji in the Pacific, and Ibiza in Mediterranean are examples of popular island resorts.
- "A Golden Gate Fantasy on the Kansas Prairie" article by A.G. Suleberger in The New York Times September 15, 2010, accessed September 16, 2010
- Beirman, David (2003). Restoring Tourism Destinations in Crisis: A Strategic Marketing Approach. CABI Publishing.
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