Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Tue September 06 2016

Titanic Belfast Named Europe's Leading Visitor Attraction for 2016

Destination & Tourism | Patrick Clarke | September 06, 2016

Titanic Belfast Named Europe's Leading Visitor Attraction for 2016

PHOTO: Titanic Belfast museum in Northern Ireland (photo courtesy of VisitBritain). 

Despite having been around for just over four years, Northern Ireland's Titanic Belfast has beat out some of the most iconic attractions in history to claim the title of Europe's leading attraction in 2016.

The maritime museum at the site of where the RMS Titanic was built more than a century ago received the top honor at the World Travel Awards ceremony in Sardinia on Sunday.

The award signals the first time that a Northern Ireland attraction has won in the ceremony's more-than-two-decade history. Nonetheless it's the second time in as many years that an Irish attraction has been recognized, with Dublin's Guinness Storehouse winning in 2015.

"After only four years in operation, to be recognized and beat off stiff competition from Europe's most iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Roman Colosseum is a true honor," said Titanic Belfast chief executive Tim Husbands via the Irish Times.

While the honor is undoubtedly impressive, it's hardly shocking considering that the Titanic Belfast emerged as Northern Ireland's top visitor attraction in only its second year of operation. Launched in March 2012, the attraction has hosted more than 3 million visitors over that time, drawing large numbers of travelers from the U.S. and Canada in addition to surrounding Europe.

READ MORE: Titanic Belfast Becomes Northern Ireland’s Top Draw

Following this weekend's triumph, the Titanic Belfast advances to the Grand Final Gala Ceremony in the Maldives on Dec. 12. There Europe's top visitor attraction will look to secure the title of world's leading attraction. 

Regardless of the outcome, it's clear that Titanic Belfast has come a long way in a short time.

"Titanic Belfast is now a global brand which has put Northern Ireland on the map for all the right reasons — so last night’s official confirmation that it is now Europe’s leading tourist attraction is well deserved," Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster told the Times.

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