National Geographic has unveiled its list of 35 must-visit destinations around the world to visit in 2022, and travellers from the North East won’t have far to go to tick the first destination off their list.
Hadrian’s Wall was nominated as one of the world’s top 35 destinations alongside the likes of Rome, Oslo and Costa Rica, a huge boost ahead of the Wall’s 1900th anniversary and a packed programme of events starting in January.
Covering parts of Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland and Cumbria, the 73-mile long wall is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, meaning it is of great cultural or natural significance.
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As well as the list coinciding with the 50th anniversary of UNESCO, 2022 marks 35 years since the Wall was designated a World Heritage site.
Rhonda Carrier, writing for National Geographic UK, highlighted the year-long 1900 Festival as one of the regions to visit, along with the £30m investment in government and charity funding to improve transport links and upgrade visitor centres – with the eventual goal of attracting 1 million more tourists annually to compete with Stonehenge and even the Great Wall of China.
Bill Griffiths, Chair of the 1900 Festival, is delighted that National Geographic has recognised the Wall as a must-visit destination. He said: “I think it will remind people we have this incredible World Heritage Site that runs across the country. Many people have heard of Hadrian’s Wall and as we emerge from Covid, this will remind people it’s a place they want to visit.
“In the next year, who knows what travel plans are going to be? With the 1900 Festival, we want to get all the local communities involved and appreciating their World Heritage Site. If people locally celebrate the wall more, that’s better for tourists coming in from further afield, who can then appreciate what a fantastic part of the world we live in.”
Bill is also the Head of Programmes and Collections of Tyne and Wear Museums and was the first curator of Segedunum in Wallsend. He hopes that the attention brings tourists to Tyne and Wear too.
He said: “The general public think Hadrian’s Wall is the green bit in the middle, but we’ve also got the sites of Segedunum and Arbeia ( South Shields ) and we’re really excited to be part of the festival and show a bit of Hadrian’s Wall on Tyneside which is often overlooked.
Arbeia is one of several sites along the Wall mentioned in National Geographic’s list, along with the Roman Army Museum, Corbridge Roman Town, Twice Brewed Inn and the Sill.
National Geographic’s list was framed by five categories – nature, adventure, culture, sustainability, and family. Hadrian’s Wall was celebrated in the family category.
Pat Riddell, editor of National Geographic Traveller (UK), said: “Whether it’s closer to home, exploring the UK and Europe, or focusing on journeys further afield to destinations that highlight sustainable, environmental and community initiatives, this year’s list gives us an opportunity to celebrate the world as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.
“Travel might be slow and cautious to begin with, and while there’s undoubtedly pent-up demand it’s also a chance to consider how and why we travel. These 35 destinations are a good starting place to plan your trips for 2022 and beyond.”
Other UK sites on the best in travel list include London’s Tin Pan Alley, Kent and Nottinghamshire. The full list can be viewed here.
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