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The top five supersized tourist flops

As Japan unveils the world’s second largest building - The Sky Tower, which is expected to receive 8,000 visitors a day, our intrepid travel writer Benji Lanyado says that bigger is not always better when it comes to manmade tourist attractions.

Here are his top five supersized tourist flops:

From top to bottom:

The Ruyong hotel, North Korea:

Started in 1989 this was supposed to be the largest hotel on earth, with seven restaurants at its peak. Unfortunately, the building is still incomplete.

The Mecca Clock Tower, Saudi Arabia

This horrendous clock tower next to Mecca has been described as an “architectural absurdity” and a “kitsch rendition of Big Ben”.

The San Alfonso del Mar swimming pool, Chile
This is the world’s largest swimming pool with 66m gallons of temperate water stretching over 3,300ft, set directly adjacent to the sea.

Dubai’s coastline

Where to start really? It’s amazing how many monstrousities you can pack into a small area of coastline!

Valle de la Prehistoria, Cuba

Built in the 1980s this dinosaur theme park features a bizarre 30ft neanderthal cracking a rock with a homemade axe.

Photo credit: Reuters, Getty EPA, Alamy

Dubai Airport is literally the heart of Dubai, according to author John Kasarda, who asserts that the city is an “aerotropolis.” (Photo from

An aerotropolis is a city built around an airport, says Kasarda, who first heard of the term in China, where dozens are being built.

"Dubai is really an airline with an emirate attached to it. I mean Dubai literally was a city of 20,000 people 20 or 30 years ago and they leveraged their airline, Emirates, which is now the world’s fastest growing and largest long haul carrier, to basically become this sort of hub for the middle of the world."

In the U.S., Memphis, Tennessee would qualify as an aerotropolis, says Kasarda, and future American cities would be planned around airports.


A judge in the Netherlands has approved a government plan to ban foreign tourists from cannabis cafes. (Image: A cafe in Amsterdam, by budgetplaces, Flickr)

According to Dutch officials, the ban is designed to discourage drug tourists and end cross-border crimes.

The cafes will become members only clubs and will be able to issue up to 2,000 membership cards to residents over the age of 18.

The ban starts in the southern provinces of the Netherlands in May, and roll out to the rest of the country in January of 2013. Cafe owners and some city officials fear the ban will hurt tourism.


An ad for a fertility clinic in India targets Westerners. (Image from thehealthcaremarketer)

This year, hundreds of thousands of Americans will travel abroad, not to see ancient ruins or visit historic sites, but to undergo affordable medical care.

These medical tourists will go to Mexico, Thailand, Costa Rica and elsewhere for everything from root canals to hip replacements. And while this type of tourism has been around for decades, it’s become more and more popular as health care costs in the U.S. continue to rise. And if Obamacare is overturned by the Supreme Court — more average Americans may soon be medical tourists as well. More.