SA landmarks among most popular natural wonders in the world

A new study has ranked the most popular natural areas in the world by the amount of visitors they see each year.

The study assessed data from 556 national parks and protected areas worldwide, and estimated their total economic value based on visits.

According to the research group – which included the World Wildlife Fund scientists – over 8 billion people visit national parks and nature reserves each year, bringin in over US$600 billion in revenue.

In contrast, only an estimated US$10 billion is spent on the conservation of these areas.

The most visited natural attraction is located in the USA: the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, which sees 14.4 million visits a year.

Two South African locations are included on the list, with the Table Mountain National Park seeing 1.4 million visits a year (33rd most vistied in the world), and the Kruger National Park seeing 1 million visits (46th, overall).

The research paper looked at the average number of annual visits between 1998 and 2007.

10 most visited parks in the world

The top 10 most visited natural areas in the world are all located in the USA and the UK, which are home to 80% of the world’s protected natural areas.

According to the research data, 3.8 billion of the 8 billion annual visitors to parks and reserves are found in Europe (where more than half of these areas are located), with North America accounting for 3.3 billion visitors.

This leaves under a billion visitors dispersed across the rest of the world’s natural areas.

1. Golden Gate National Recreational Area – 13.7 million visitors

Golden Gate NRA

2. The Lake District – 10.5 million visitors

The Lake District

3. The Peak District – 10.1 million visitors

The Peak District

4. Lake Mead National Recreational Area – 7.8 million visitors

Lake Mead NRA

5. North York Moors National Park – 7.3 million visitors

North York Moors National Park

6. Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area – 5.1 million visitors

Delaware Water Gap NRA

7. Dartmoor – 4.3 million visitors


8. New Forest – 4.3 million visitors

New Forest

9. Grand Canyon National Park – 4.3 million visitors

Grand Canyon

10. Cape Cod – 4.1 million visitors

Cape Cod

# National Park Country Annual visitors
1 Golden Gate NRA USA 13.7 million
2 The Lake District UK 10.5 million
3 The Peak District UK 10.1 million
4 Lake Mead NRA USA 7.8 million
5 North York Moors National Park UK 7.3 million
6 Delaware Water Gap NRA USA 5.1 million
7 Dartmoor UK 4.3 million
8 New Forest UK 4.3 million
9 Grand Canyon National Park USA 4.3 million
10 Cape Cod NS USA 4.1 million

Most visited parks by continent

Region National Park Country Annual visitors
North America Golden Gate NRA USA 13.72 million
Europe The Lake District UK 10.5 million
Asia Seoraksan National Park South Korea 3.06 million
Africa Table Mountain National Park South Africa 1.46 million
South America Tijuca National Park Brazil 737,000
Oceania Gondwana Rainforests Australia 510,000

Most visited parks in Africa

1. Table Mountain National Park

Table Mountain National Park

2. Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park

3. Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls

4. Addo Elephant Park

Addo Elephant Park

5. Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park

# National Park Country Annual visitors
1 Table Mountain National Park South Africa 1.46 million
2 Kruger National Park South Africa 1.0 million
3 Victoria Falls/Mosi-oa-Tunya Zimbabwe 300,000
4 Addo Elephant National Park South Africa 172,000
5 Serengeti National Park Tanzania 147,879
6 West Coast South Africa 99,726
7 Lake Manyara National Park Tanzania 71,693
8 Augrabies Falls National Park South Africa 65,987
9 Tarangire National Park Tanzania 55,134
10 Moremi Game Reserve Botswana 39,178

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SA landmarks among most popular natural wonders in the world