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New 7 Wonders: Tourism Officials Allege Hidden Fees

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The contest to name the New 7 Wonders of Nature is nothing but a moneymaking scheme. So say detractors of the project according to The Telegraph.

According to the paper, tourism authorities in the Maldives and Indonesia both withdrew their backing for the project and voiced concerns over voting methods and "hidden" costs. UNESCO, which produces a World Heritage List, also distanced itself from the project.

In Indonesia, tourism authorities "claim that organizers requested $10 million in licensing and sponsorship fees, and $35 million to organize an event." The country's tourism ministry was threatened with suspension from the 28-candidate shortlist unless the licensing fee was paid. Though Indonesian authorities withdrew, a new "official supporting committee" was found for Indonesia's entry, Komodo, which was named one of the seven winners.

A similar situation occurred in the Maldives, where the potential cost to the country's economy was estimated at $500,000. The Maldives did not win.

"In principle it isn't a bad idea, but there is no transparency," Simon Hawkins, director of the Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation, told The Telegraph. "It's no coincidence that every country that held a promotional event has come in the top seven."

New 7 Wonders calls itself a not-for-profit organization, but its parent company, the New Open World Corporation (NOWC), is a commercial business.

According to a New 7 Wonders spokesman, the campaign didn't lack transparency, nor were fees hidden. The campaign didn't use taxpayer subsidies, the spokesman claimed, though there might have been government funding.

The provisional list of the winning 7 wonders, which were announced November 11, includes: the Amazon, Iguazu Falls, Komodo, Halong Bay, Jeju Island, Table Mountain and Puerto Princesa Underground River.

See the slideshow below for the original 28 contenders.

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