New7wonders announces winners of competition

The Switzerland-based New7wonders foundation have announced the seven winners to be the Amazon rainforest, Vietnam’s Halong Bay, Argentina’s Iguazu Falls, South Korea’s Jeju Island, Indonesia’s Komodo, the Philippines’ Puerto Princesa underground river, and South Africa’s Table Mountain.

The Maldives, the Dead Sea, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon did not make the final seven.

Votes were collected online and via paid SMS voting in the various countries, in collaboration with assorted telecom providers. Final vote counts for the winners were not revealed.

In an announcement aired on YouTube, New7wonders founder and self-described “filmmaker, aviator and adventurer”, Bernard Weber, stated that “once the voting validation process is completed in early 2012, we will work with the confirmed winners to organise the official inauguration events.”

Weber also announced that New7wonders would be launching a competition to determine the greatest cities in the world.

Indonesian and Maldivian tourism authorities withdrew from the competition earlier this year, citing demands for large amounts of money from New7wonders for licensing and event hosting, that had not been explicitly outlined in the original contracts.

Indonesia’s Tourism Minister Jero Wacik claimed in the Jakata Post that the decision was taken “because the organisers – the New7Wonders Foundation – have taken actions that are not professional, consistent and transparent.”

“We have spent around (US$1.1 million) on campaign activities over the past three years,” Wacik told the Jakarta Post, claiming that New7wonders had subsequently demanded a US$10 million licensing fee and a US$35 million fee to host a ceremony celebrating the competition’s winners.

Meanwhile, Maldives State Minister for Tourism Thoyyib Mohamed announced in May that the Maldives was similarly withdrawing “because of the unexpected demands for large sums of money from the New7Wonders organisers. We no longer feel that continued participation is in the economic interests of the Maldives.”

The Tourism Ministry initially paid a US$199 participation fee to New7Wonder’s commerical arm, New Open World Corporation (NOWC), registered to a law firm in the Republic of Panama.

Subsequent requests for money included ‘sponsorship fees’ (‘platinum’ at US$350,000, or two ‘gold’ at US$210,000 each), and funding of a ‘World Tour’ event whereby the Maldives would pay for a delegation of people to visit the country, provide hot air balloon rides, press trips, flights, accommodation and communications.

After complaining, the Maldives was offered a bare-bones ‘protocol visit’, but informed that winners of the previous competition had all hosted a big event.

NOWC also attempted to charge telecom provider Dhiraagu US$1 million for the right to participate in the New7Wonders campaign, a fee that was dropped to half a million when the company complained about the price.

In response to the Maldives’ decision to resign from the campaign, New7wonders spokesman Eamonn Fitzgerald quoted John Donne’s ‘No man is an island’, and insisted that the Maldives remained in the competition “because the authority to withdraw a participant from the campaign is a decision for New7Wonders alone, not for any government agency.”

Following Indonesia’s decision to withdraw, Fitzgerald said that “Despite a series of malicious attacks on New7Wonders by the [Ministry of Culture and Tourism], the public and media opinion consensus in Indonesia is that the MCT should not interfere in the democratic right of the Indonesian people to vote for Komodo Island in the New7Wonders of Nature.”

“The MCT had no authority in this matter as it ceased to be the legitimate New7Wonders representative in Indonesia in February, so the announcement was absurd,” Fitzgerald said, stating that the foundation’s new representative in Indonesia was a group called P2Komodo.

“P2Komodo is an alliance of positive and forward looking members of Indonesian civil society, who are keen to ensure that Komodo Island has a fair chance of participating in the New7Wonders of Nature,” Fitzgerald said.

In the Maldives, New7wonders approached the Maldives Association of Travel and Tour Operators (MATATO), but the arrangement was never cemented.

Secretary General of MATATO, Maleeh Jamal, said at the time that the association had been in contact with New7Wonders and was considering working on the event in the government’s stead.

The studies offered by New7Wonders promised an “enormous return on investment”, Jamal suggested.

“I think US$500,000 for such an award would be quickly recovered. Although the money was a concern, we had a fair chance of winning. A lot of competing destinations, such as Australia and South Africa, are taking this competition very seriously,” Jamal said in May.


8 thoughts on “New7wonders announces winners of competition”

  1. Interesting information! Regardless from these fussy things, the new selected 7 wonders are very beautiful and amazing places in the world!

  2. what a greedy organiser. Maldives is truly a wonder. We don't need any vote for that.

  3. According to insiders, Jamal was the one who pushed the then Minister of Tourism to participate in this. The top officials at tourism was totally against this but Jamal cornered the then Minister to join this scam.
    So when Thoyyib and the officials decided to withdraw, Jamal was very upset and tried to push MATATO to join this scam. But his efforts ended up in vain.
    So this shows his dubious tactics in his conduct.


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