Winner of the national qualifiers category, the renowned Underground River will be the Philippines' bets in the New7Wonders of Nature race. Results of the first phase of voting in the Official New7Wonders of Nature campaign were revealed today at the New7Wonders Foundation headquarters.
"We are proud to announce that the Philippine marvels have stood strong in the first round of voting. This affirms us of the support of Filipinos as well as other tourists in helping our natural sites make their mark in the global scale," Tourism Secretary Ace Durano said.
Recently awarded for his efforts and advocacy in ecological tourism, he added, "With billions of supporters all over the globe, promotion of spectacular sites from all over the world has been set to greater heights. It is also very important to call on the sustainable promotion of these tourism sites, which are nature's blessings."
The first stage of the Official New7Wonders of Nature campaign officially ended with the old year. At midnight on December 31, 2008 on the International Date Line, all voting was suspended on the New7Wonders website until today, January 7th, for the organizers to tally and verify all votes.
Tia Viering, Head of Communications for New7Wonders, says "We congratulate the successful qualifying locations from the Philippines and wish them the best of luck in the second phase of voting."
She added, "We also at this time highlight the strong and enthusiastic participation of the other national nominees that are not proceeding—many have already benefited from a significant increase in worldwide awareness, which in itself is a recognized important benefit for all involved in the New7Wonders campaigns."
According to the Foundation, these magnificent natural sites are amongst the 261 nominees now one step closer to potentially being chosen one of the Official New7Wonders of Nature by the people of the world.
"The Philippines' wonders besting the others truly give us more reasons to strengthen not only the promotion, but the preservation of our natural sites," Eduardo Jarque, Jr., Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions remarked.
Jarque further said, "The New 7 Wonders campaign, gaining participation from numerous supporters will inevitably translate to increased interest in seeing these magnificent places. We thank and congratulate all Filipinos who have made their voice heard through the online polls."
The Philippines' Underground River shares the spotlight with the Coral Triangle, a multinational participant. Spanning eastern Indonesia, parts of Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands, the Coral Triangle is the global center of marine biodiversity and one of the world's top priorities for marine conservation.
Of the original 441 nominees, 180, or more than 40%, were eliminated as the next stage begins today until July 7, to select the Top 77 - the pool from which the 21 Official Finalists are chosen.
The qualified 261 national and multinational nominees from the 222 participating countries feature iconic locations such as the Grand Canyon, Loch Ness, the Black Forest, and Mount Fuji, alongside the Amazon, the Danube, the Dead Sea, the Great Barrier Reef, Iguazu Falls, the Kalahari Desert, Mont Blanc, and Niagara Falls.
As in the original successful campaign that chose the Official New 7 Wonders of the World thanks to more than 100 million votes, the N7W Panel of Experts will select the 21 Finalists from the top 77, which will be announced on July 21, 2009.
At that time the third and final phase of voting will begin, and the people of the world will then have approximately 2 years to vote amongst the 21 Finalists for the Official New7Wonders of Nature, to be revealed in 2011. Over 1 billion votes are forecast.