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National Monuments and their Value to a Country

A national monument is a monument constructed in order to commemorate something of importance to national heritage, such as a country's founding, independence, war, or the life, achievements or death of a historical figure.

The term may also refer to a specific monument status, such as a national heritage site, by reason of their cultural importance rather than age. National monument status is usually granted to important symbols of national identity.

Structures or areas deemed to be of national importance and afforded protection by the state are part of a country's cultural heritage. These national heritage sites are often called something different per country and are listed by national conservation societies. Romania has listed at least one plant as a national monument.

One thing links all of them though - they are all powerful symbols of that country or region's identity. One other thing that links most of them too, is that they are often extremely significant earners of revenue for the country that hosts them. When a monument has a price on entry, it is easy to state how much revenue it earns except for the fact that the ticket is often only a small part of the real value of the monument. Each visitor has travelled to the country hosting the monument, often staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, hiring cars - doing all the ordinary things tourists and visitors do. Their value to the hosting country is therefore often indirect and difficult too quantify. They also serve as powerful promotional tools - free advertising, if you like.

One example is Big Ben in London. Although not a great many people actually visit the clock tower in the Palace of Westminster where Big Ben is situated (Big Ben is actually the largest bell inside the clock tower - not the tower itself), of the 19 million people who visit London each year, most of them make their way down to the Palace of Westminster to take a photo. That’s 19 million people spending a day in London and spending money.

In 2017, almost 15 million people visited the pyramids in Egypt. If each one spent just $1 dollar, that would still be decent revenue for what is a relatively impoverished country. But we know that tourists spend much more than that -perhaps $100 per day or even more.

Some economists state that the indirect or ‘soft’ power of the most iconic monuments is vastly greater than the countable receipts. Perhaps the best example of this is the Eiffel Tower, in Paris. Eight million people, on average visit every year, but the ticket revenues are dwarfed by the indirect benefits that the tower brings. This is estimated at an almost mind-boggling 400 billion Euros - that amounts to almost a fifth of France's entire annual gross domestic product.

Take a look at the visitor numbers of the following great monuments and the value to those countries’ economies:


MONUMENT The Pyramids of Egypt

VISITORS 8.9 million

MONUMENT The Taj Mahal, India

VISITORS 8 million

MONUMENT Stonehenge, UK

VISITORS 1 million

MONUMENT The Great Wall of China

VISITORS 10 million

MONUMENT Angkor Wat, Cambodia

VISITORS 2.6 million

MONUMENT The Acropolis, Greece

VISITORS 1 million

MONUMENT The Colosseum

VISITORS 6 million

MONUMENT The Statue of Liberty, USA

VISITORS 7 million

MONUMENT The Eiffel Tower, Paris

VISITORS 7 million

MONUMENT Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, UK


MONUMENT Sydney Opera house, Australia

VISITORS 11 million

MONUMENT The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

VISITORS 5 million


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