Internationally distributed American daily newspaper USA Today recently released an article listing the top 100 biggest tourist traps worldwide, aiming to arm tourists with the information they “need before planning to visit a popular tourist destination”.
In the article, the publication also listed the top 100 most overpriced attractions and the top 100 most overrated attractions worldwide based on their analysis of 23.2 million Google reviews.
Given our country’s popularity among global travellers, it was no surprise that a tourist spot in Malaysia made it to the list, but the place itself may come as a surprise to many: Penang Hill.
In fact, not only did Penang Hill was included in the list, but USA Today also placed it as the worst tourist trap in Asia and 9th in the world.
Furthermore, the publication also put the Penang destination as the 3rd most overrated tourist attraction in Asia and 14th globally, as well as the 64th most overpriced in the world.
So, how did USA Today compiled the list and ended up having Penang Hill as the worst tourist trap in Asia? Well, the publication said that it analysed 23.2 million Google reviews of 500 popular tourist attractions in the world, spanning 65 countries in 6 continents in July 2023.
The publication then analysed mentions of certain keywords that indicate a common negative sentiment among visitors, such as “tourist trap”, “expensive” and “overrated”, hence the 3 main categories in the article.
Besides that, USA Today also clarified that the list started with 1,600 tourist attractions and then narrowed down to 500 spots, which would explain why Penang Hill was the only Malaysian tourist attraction in all 3 categories.
With that in mind, while the methodology was quite data-based, the list itself seems to be rather subjective and has many flaws. For example, only Google reviews written in English were analysed and also included the use of the keywords in a positive context (for example, “It’s kind of a tourist trap but we loved it”) in creating the list. For the latter, USA Today said that these instances of usage were not frequent enough to be statistically significant.
Besides that, it is also worth mentioning that Penang Hill was named Asia’s worst tourist trap based on just 21 mentions of the keyword “tourist trap” in a mere 3,737 Google reviews (0.56% frequency). The 21 mentions when viewed across all the 100 tourist destinations mentioned are among the fewest in the list.
So, what do you guys think of these findings by USA Today? Do you agree with Penang Hill’s placement? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.