At the beginning of the year, TripAdvisor listed their 2008 mapmakers. Along with Dubai, Le Val, Beijing, Johannesburg, Las Vegas, Chicago and Wasilla, Oslo made the (I suppose) exclusive list of only 8 destinations, interestingly enough. And why is that interesting? I’m glad you asked!

It seems what draws people’s attention to a (new) place, is mostly – other people.

Mapmakers in the Americas…

  • Wasilla, Alaska: Sarah Palin. Is that enough to spark interest? Really?
  • Chicago, Illinois: Obama. A given?
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: This one is a bit more baffling, financial crunch and all. Or is that perhaps why? The potential for victory at the gaming tables brings a glimmer of hope – albeit short-lived for most – in a challenging world?

…in the Middle East…

  • Dubai: Michael Jackson was there in 2008.

…in Asia…

  • Beijing: With the 2008 Summer Olympics, this is obvious to all.

…in Africa…

  • Johannesburg: Miss World 2008. Although I consider these contests vulgar – or in the words of that superb travel writer William Dalrymple, tacky and tasteless – I acknowledge their importance to a great many people in the world. In fact, South Africa is where I first was told that televised beauty contests are just as important as sporting events. Everyone watches!

… and mapmakers in Europe

  • Le Val (Provence): Hang-out of Brangelina.
  • Oslo: A new opera house (with ambitions to rival the one in Sydney – consider yourselves warned, Ozzies).

I’m very pleased travellers were drawn to Oslo in 2008. And not because a celebrity was spotted here, a chance to gamble away their life savings or to see girls strutting about on a stage like puppets. But an opera house. I think that’s just wonderful!


Oslo Opera House on an overcast day