Zurich, Switzerland, 31 January 2011
The New7Wonders Foundation has begun the process of suspending the Indonesian candidate Komodo as one of the 28 Finalists in the Official New7Wonders of Nature campaign. “We have been forced to take this action after weeks of unproductive private and official discussions aiming to resolve an important legal matter positively,” said Bernard Weber, President of the New7Wonders Foundation.
The principal reasons Weber cited for this dramatic move were a legally binding contract for the New7Wonders Official Host in Jakarta on 11 November that is not being honoured, and the slow response by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to back up its many public and documented statements of support for the campaign.
In a personal letter to the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Bernard Weber appealed for a speedy resolution of the issue: “I believe you have the vision, courage and capacity to resolve an issue that is close to the heart of many Indonesians,” he said.
“I can pledge to you now that as soon as things are brought back on track we will immediately halt the suspension process and re-instate Komodo as an authorised Finalist in the Official New7Wonders of Nature campaign,” the letter continued. But Weber left no doubt about the outcome if an agreement is not reached: “However, should a solution not be forthcoming then we will have to proceed with the complete withdrawal of Komodo and its replacement by another nominee from the official Reserve List. We are seeking all avenues in respect of our contractual rights to avoid this ultimate and final step.”
To emphasize the impact of a possible suspension, Weber pointed to the benefits that the first campaign to elect the man-made Official New 7 Wonders of the World delivered. That campaign climaxed in a spectacular event in Lisbon, Portugal, on 7 July 2007, and a study concluded that more than US$5 billion in terms of economic, tourism and national brand value were generated as a result. He noted that the selection of the Official New7Wonders of Nature by an expected 1 billion votes is as significant an event as the football World Cup final, and comparable to the Olympic opening ceremony and the Academy Awards.
Indonesia’s Komodo National Park includes the three larger islands Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller ones, for a total area of 1,817 square kilometers (603 square kilometers of it land). The national park was founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon. Later, it was also dedicated to protecting other species, including marine animals.