With every new designation -- Unesco World
Heritage sites, "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" and now the
New Seven Wonders of the World -- comes a fresh marketing
So it was no
surprise that when the New Seven Wonders were announced on July 7,
destinations that made the cut applauded the effort, those that
didn't dismissed it and the travel industry immediately plotted
ways to capitalize on it.
"We fully intend
to market this opportunity to its full potential," said Cyndi Zesk,
vice president of marketing at Pawtucket, R.I.-based Collette
Vacations. "People of course want to visit one of the Seven Wonders
of the World, if not all of them. This will appeal to consumers and
agents, and we will soon have the packages and promotions to really
excite those customers."
Collette already offers packages that include six of the seven
sites. "Petra, Jordan, the only place listed that we don't
currently visit, [will] be added, particularly now that it's a New
Wonder," said Daniel Sullivan Jr., president and CEO of
Before the New
Seven Wonders had even been announced, Canadian agency Travel Cuts
had already assembled a Seven Wonders in 70 Days package for $7,000
by guesstimating which sites would be selected.
entrepreneur Bernard Weber initiated the New Seven Wonders project
in 1999, more than 2,100 years after the original list was compiled
by ancient Greek thinkers.
Seven Wonders of the World were the Temple of Artemis in
present-day Turkey; the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, near Al Hillah
in Iraq; the Colossus of Rhodes; the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in
Bodrum, Turkey; the Lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt; the Statue of
Zeus at Olympia; and the Pyramids in Giza.
was to decide the new wonders in a democratic forum. According to
his New7Wonders Foundation, more than 100 million voters from more
than 200 countries elected the seven sites via online and phone-in
voting that started in January 2006.
Voters chose from
a list of 20 sites, which had been determined by a New7Wonders
panel headed by former director-general of Unesco, Federico
Zaragoza. Those 20 had been whittled down from an original 77
sites, also established by public voting that ran from 2000 through
Dec. 24, 2005.
And while the New
Seven Wonders were announced amid much media hype before a crowd of
about 50,000 in Lisbon -- on 7/7/07, of course -- not everyone was
sold on Weber's methodology.
"There is no
comparison between Mr. Weber's mediatised campaign and the
scientific and educational work resulting from the inscription of
sites on Unesco's World Heritage List," Unesco declared in an
official statement. "This initiative cannot, in any significant and
sustainable manner, contribute to the preservation of sites elected
by this public."
contested the validity of the project, claiming that the Pyramids
of Giza were already an ancient wonder. The country had refused to
entertain Weber's project, and, in an awkward compromise,
New7Wonders' granted the Pyramids honorary New Seven Wonders
list is still a list.
"As soon as
there's a checklist out there, there's going to be people doing
it," said Ian Swain, president of Ardmore, Pa.-based Swain Tours,
which plans on plugging the two sites it already offers, the Great
Wall of China and the Taj Mahal in India, with the New Wonders
status of that, checking your list off," said Swain. "And there's
going to be people out there saying, 'Well, I've done the New Seven
Wonders of the World.' And that will stimulate travel."
To contact reporter Michelle Baran, send e-mail to [email protected].