8 tourist attractions that became popular in the 2010s and what they look like now
- With the advent of social media, specifically Instagram, there are plenty of tourist attractions and destinations that have seen a serious spike in visits.
- While sometimes this new exposure can boost tourism - and give visitors a once-in-a-lifetime experience - other times it can be detrimental to the environment or safety.
- Boracay, an island in the Philippines, was called a "cesspool" by its own president.
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These 8 destinations and attractions have all seen a significant spike in visitors over the past decade for various reasons, from Instagram to "Game of Thrones".
Though tourism can be a positive thing for a city or country's economy, it can also bring upon other negative consequences that can lead an attraction to shut down for good.
This is how much these popular tourist spots have changed over the past 10 years:
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Orlando, Florida, in 2010.
The park has now expanded into both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, with more rides, attractions, and a new neighbourhood to explore.
The park, pictured in 2019, is constantly changing and updating, with a new ride, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, opening this summer.
According Forbes, visits to Islands of Adventure have "increased by a staggering 64.5%" since the 2010 opening, with 9.8 million visitors in 2018.
Iceland has become one of the most popular tourist destinations over the past decade, and the Blue Lagoon is the most visited attraction in the country.
"Tourism in Iceland grew rapidly, with an average year-on-year growth in tourist arrivals of over 25% since 2013, peaking in 2016 with 38% growth," Inga Hlín Pálsdóttir, director at Visit Iceland, told USA TODAY.
The Blue Lagoon now attracts 4,000 visitors a day.
The number of tourists regularly exceeds the entire population of Iceland - and that number is growing. In 2016, 1.8 million people traveled to the island, whereas in 2018, 2.3 million people made the trek.
The number of people who visit the Blue Lagoon is an example of the effect of tourism on the country - everything gets crowded.
"Sex and the City 2" premiered in 2010, introducing Abu Dhabi and its various tourist attractions to millions of people.
Was "Sex and the City 2" particularly well-liked, or even necessary? Not exactly, but the movie was essentially a giant ad for Abu Dhabi tourism. The film made it seem like the most glamourous vacation spot in the world.
The Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi, pictured, was completed in 2009 and brought a more modern style of architecture to the city.
Skyscrapers are continually going up in Abu Dhabi as more and more tourists and industries flock to the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
In 2018, 10.27 million people visited Abu Dhabi.
Singapore opened two massive resorts in 2010 to strengthen the country's tourism industry, including the Marina Bay Sands.
The Marina Bay Sands, pictured in 2010, opened its doors in April 2010 and immediately became Singapore's largest and most popular hotel. In its 57 stories, it contains the SkyPark (an observation deck), the world's largest infinity pool, movie theaters, high-end designer stores, a spa, and multiple restaurants and bars.
By 2015, tourism had more than doubled from 2004. The Marina Bay Sands was the most Instagrammed hotel in the world in 2017.
In 2018, 18.5 million people visited Singapore, and according to Instagram, the Marina Bay Sands was the most instagrammed hotel in the world.
The Singapore Tourism Board credited the release of the 2018 romantic comedy "Crazy Rich Asians" for the spike in tourism. The Board said "organic search interest in Singapore rose by more than three times in the United States during the movie's release," and there was a 110% spike in searches on travel-planning site Orbitz.
Big Major Cay in the Bahamas, also known as Pig Beach, experienced a boom during the 2010s.
The pigs have been on the island for years, but before social media, it was more of a local secret, or something that you'd really have to research to figure out. Celebrity visits, "The Bachelor," and social media have all played a part in the surge of visitors to Pig Beach.
But now, tourism is having a deadly impact on the pigs.
It was determined that pigs were dying from sand ingestion, which happened because tourists regularly throw food onto the beach, according to National Geographic.
According to the US State Department, 5.5 million people visit the Bahamas annually.
Boracay, a small island in the Philippines, was named the 2012 Best Island in the World by Travel + Leisure because the beaches were so pristine.
Boracay had only made its debut on the list in 2011, before topping the list in 2012. At the time, Travel + Leisure wrote it had "still-under-the-radar status."
In 2018, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte called the island a "cesspool" and shut it down for six months so the government could clean up.
Boracay closed itself to visitors in April 2018, largely due to a viral video showing "sewage flowing directly into Boracay's blue waters." The video is what led to Duterte calling the island a "cesspool."
In 1990, 1 million people visited the Philippines. Compare that to the 6.6 million who visited in 2017 - and more than 2 million of those visitors headed to the tiny island of Boracay.
The island reopened in October 2018, but with significantly more infrastructure, and fewer tourists.
Dubrovnik, Croatia, was a moderately popular tourist destination a decade ago.
Croatia's only been a country since 1991, after it declared it was leaving Yugoslavia. In the early 2010s, people were visiting, but numbers have increased significantly.
When "Game of Thrones" used the city as a stand-in for King's Landing, tourism numbers rocketed. The city is in danger of losing its UNESCO World Heritage site status.
"Game of Thrones" premiered in 2011. By 2015, Dubrovnik was regularly hitting its 3 million visitors target. That year, it hit the milestone in October, 20 days earlier than 2014. And tourism has only increased since then.
In 2017, UNESCO warned Croatia that the Old City of Dubrovnik was in danger of losing its status as a World Heritage site due to the massive amount of tourists in relation to "the sustainable carrying capacity of the city."
Hanoi's "train street" has been around for over 100 years.
The railway was first built in the Vietnamese city in 1902 by French colonists. Over the years, cafes have cropped up alongside the tracks, but before social media it was more of a hidden gem than a tourist destination.
But the rise of Instagram made it impossible to keep the cafes open, and they were shut down in October 2019.
Hanoi's government ordered the cafes to close up shop by October 12, citing safety concerns. The railroad is still active, and trains do travel it.
The Guardian wrote that the area was considered a "rough part of town" until selfie-hungry tourists started flooding the area trying to get a perfect post for Instagram.
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