World travel hotspot list pits Patagonia, Alaska and Azores against Cardiff
23 June 2011
By John Bingham
National Geographic, the revered US periodical, has placed Cardiff in a list of “must-see” world travel destinations for summer 2011.
The other places chosen boast dramatic glacial landscapes, whales, bears or volcanic springs to lure visitors, but Cardiff made it in to sixth place.
The Welsh capital is described as a “modern sports-entertainment destination” combining a rich industrial heritage with the biggest waterfront development in Europe.
As well as singling out traditional draws such as Cardiff Castle – which the magazine describes as “iconic” – it portrays the city as a haven for enthusiasts of sports such as white water rafting, power boating and windsurfing.
It earns a place just behind the dramatic Andean landscape of Patagonia in Argentina and Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and ahead of the Azores and the island of Roatan in Honduras.
The top ranking goes to Muskoka Cottage Country in Ontario, Canada, which is singled out as an “unplugged place” to escape from the demands of modern life while still within reach of cities such as Toronto.
Cardiff, the magazine says, was historically a “city of castles and coal” which has transformed itself into a mecca for shoppers and sports fans alike.
Hywel Thomas, of Cardiff & Co which promotes the city, said being featured in the National Geographic would be regarded almost with “reverence” by many.
“It is quite an accolade and the feature reflects the city's remarkable journey from a bustling coal port to a pulsating, attractive city,” he said.
But Cllr Chris Holley, leader of Swansea City and County Council – said that the choice of Cardiff would be viewed with “amusement” elsewhere in Wales.
“It seems to be the joker in the pack here,” he said.