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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why Mt Kili lost in 7 world wonders list


 

Mt Kilimanjaro did not make it to the final list despite a last minute surge in votes.
Mount Kilimanjaro has lost the race to be included in the list of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World following results announced on Friday night.The famous landmark is the highest in Africa and has for many years drawn tourists and mountain climbers from many parts of the world to marvel at its iced-peak despite its location in the hot tropical zone.

Mt Kilimanjaro did not make it to the final list despite a last minute surge in votes, Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Managing Director Dr Aloyce Nzuki told The Citizen on Sunday yesterday.

Dr Nzuki said the mountain made strong showing in the world-wide polls, ascending from 77th position to 28th and finally to 14th when provisional results were released by the Switzerland-based New7Wonders foundation.
“We lost but the mark we left is not negligible,” said Dr Nzuki, whose agency and the ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources came under fire in recent weeks for mounting campaigns to promote the voting exercise among Tanzanians belatedly.

The official hasn’t lost optimism outright, however, saying Mt Kilimanjaro might make the cut in the final results to be released early 2012. The Swiss Foundation noted in its website that the provisional New7Wonders of Nature were based on the first count of vote results on 11/11/11.

“It is possible that there will be changes between the provisional winners and the eventual finally confirmed winners after voting calculation is checked, validated and independently verified before the official inauguration ceremonies,” it said.

The seven crowned world's natural wonders are South Korea's Jeju Island, Indonesia's Komodo, the Philippines' Puerto Princesa Underground River, South Africa's Table Mountain, Amazon, Halong Bay and Iguazu Falls. Other sites that have failed to make the cut include the Dead Sea and the US Grand Canyon.

The results come after a long consultation process lasting from December 2007 to July 2009, when world citizens were asked to put forward sites which they deemed natural wonders. More than a million votes were cast to trim the list of more than 440 contenders in over 220 countries down to a shortlist of 77. The group was then further cut to 28 finalists by a panel of experts.

Anyone in the world was then able to vote for the final seven via telephone, text messages or Internet social networks. Founded in 2001 by filmmaker Bernard Weber in Zurich, the foundation New7Wonders is based on the same principle on which the seven ancient wonders of the world were established. That list of seven wonders was attributed to Philon of Byzantium in ancient Greece.

New7Wonders said its aim is to create a global memory by garnering participation worldwide.
While the news of Tanzania’s loss will dampen national psyche, it will however help draw a few lessons for both the authorities and citizens whose votes were overwhelmed 80 per cent to 20 per cent by a global audience which voted for Mt Kilimanjaro.

Stakeholders yesterday blamed poor and late publicity for the failure but most still believed Mt Kilimanjaro will continue to enjoy considerable attraction. Local leaders such as Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda and retired president Ali Hassan Mwinyi and First Lady Salma Kikwete were drafted in late to shower up the Tanzanian campaign. South Africans who took the matter more seriously and spared no effort since 2010 to promote voting were rewarded when the Cape-Town based Table Mountain made it to the list of seven.

Former chairman of Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (Zati) and an expert on Tanzania tourism affairs, Mr Simai Mohammed Said, said there was a vital lesson to start promoting vigorously all the available tourism attractions for the country.
“We must be patriotic and act timely and with urgency in matters of national importance. It is important to promote domestic tourism because it is surprising fewer local people have been to Mt Kili yet they were asked to vote for something they had not seen,” he said.

Mr Gaudence Temu, the Chairman of Tourism Confederation of Tanzania said the defeat is testament to Tanzania’s apparent belief that natural resources are meant to generate revenue naturally, ignoring investments in promotional aspects that other countries prioritise.

“The task of campaign was laid almost squarely on the shoulders of TTB and that was wrong. High-ranking national leaders would have been part of it from the beginning and private efforts of mobile phone operators, for instance, came too late ‑ in the very last minute”

Mr Temu also cited the tendency by Tanzanians to consider tourism as something that is of interest only to foreigners, as another setback to the poll results, implying that most Tanzanians might have played the role of passive observers in the whole process.

The Chairman of Tanzania Society of Travel Agents, Mr Mustafa Khataw, also blamed the late push. He urged the government to empower TTB through sufficient funding if the country is to make the desired gains in the tourism sector for such attention-grabbing events.

Dr Nzuki said the fact that the majority of Tanzanians living in rural areas have no access to the internet, coupled with the reality that only a tiny majority of urban dwellers have sustained access to internet, made it difficult for Tanzania’s local votes to make an impact compared to other countries.

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