The Department of Tourism has called on local governments, investors and the public to help meet the country’s goal to bring in five million visitors in 2010 by participating in an online survey that seeks to name the “New Seven Wonders of Nature.”
Three Philippine destinations are among 77 tourist spots worldwide vying to make it to the list of the top seven wonders—Tubbataha Reef, Chocolate Hills and Puerto Princesa’s underground river.
These local tourist drawers so far rank eighth, ninth and 20th, respectively in the online survey.
In a statement, Tourism Secretary Ace Durano said that LGUs, communities and the private sector should view the survey as a springboard for promoting ecotourism destinations in the country.
“I encourage everyone to cast their vote since this will help promote the destinations,” Durano said. “This should be further augmented with efforts that put forward our ecotourism sites and protect our environment.”
He said tourism authorities and private tourism enterprises can collaborate on adapting earth-friendly business practices, recycling and waste disposal management, educating visitors on responsible tourist behavior and other activities.
“The DOT joins other groups in the hope of seeing at least one of the Philippine nominees in the seven wonders of nature,” he added. “But we also should bear in mind the greater challenge of being good stewards (to these natural havens).”
The online poll, a search for the world’s seven most outstanding natural environments, is sponsored by the New7Wonders Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Switzerland that was also behind the online search for the New Seven Wonders of the World.
According to the foundation, the 77 official nominees—which topped an initial batch of more than 200—would be eligible for consideration by the New7Wonders of Nature panel of experts for inclusion in the group of 21 finalist candidates.
Voting is until Dec. 31 after which the panel would name the 21 finalists, from which another round of online voting would determine the final seven.
Tourism Undersecretary Eduardo Jarque Jr., who is in charge of planning and promotions, said the inclusion of three Philippine locales in the Top 77 helped raise awareness among more people worldwide considering the popularity of the poll.
“But more than awareness, we’re concerned with conversion—that people actually do something (to care for the natural wonders),” Jarque said.
He said the DOT and the Congressional committee on tourism were convinced that the three sites’ being in the running would help lawmakers and investors see the country positively and spur major tourism initiatives on a nationwide scale.