So, you would hide that long and tedious list inside a drop down menu or under a text box search?
Well, that's the difference between an objetive search and just browsing. When I see that list I think three things:
- look how complete this website is
- look how many places I can go
- look how few places I've been to, definitly I need to travel more
Sometimes the user's eye can spot a place that they've heard about but that they wouldn't remember the exact name or wouldn't remember to search specifically for that place.
Even though I think a SEO reason is a good hypothesis, it is also the same principle of showing most famous places with the pictures, which probably you agree they should be doing.
For example, you don't ask for the waiter what plates with chicken are available in the restaurant, you want to see all the options in the menu.
To make a long story short: they're just selling.