JEJU ISLAND, South Korea, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- The southern South Korean
resort island of Jeju has been named as one of the new seven natural
wonders of the world in a worldwide poll, a Switzerland-based
organization announced Saturday.
The subtropical volcanic
island, located 130 kilometers off the southern coast of the Korean
Peninsula, was selected along with Brazil's Amazon region, Halong Bay in
Vietnam, Argentina's Iguazu Falls, Indonesia's Komodo National Park,
the Puerto Princesa Underground River in the Philippines and South
Africa's Table Mountain, according to the New7Wonders foundation in
Jeju Island had been vying against 27 other natural
sites in a project initiated by the Switzerland-based nonprofit
organization in 2007.
Voting to select the New7Wonders began
in July 2009 on the Internet and by phone, with the last vote being
received on Friday.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak
congratulated Jeju on being picked as the new natural wonder prior to
departing for the 19th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting.
He said that the selection is noteworthy because it was carried out by popular vote from people living all over the world.
"More effort must be made to develop and preserve the island's beauty
so it can become a natural heritage for all mankind," he said. The
president voted for Jeju in September and had been one of the staunch
supporters of the bid.
This view was echoed by the National
Committee for Jeju New7Wonders of Nature, an organization to help the
island. Former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan, who led the organization,
said the selection represents global recognition that the island has the
potential to become one of the most attractive tourist destinations in
the world. Such a development could have long-term economic benefits for
Known for a combination of scenic mountains,
waterfalls, forests, caves and beaches, Jeju has been popular with South
Korean honeymooners and tourists from neighboring countries such as
China and Japan.
"A good harmony of human and nature is the characteristic of Jeju Island," Chung said.
He said the selection of Jeju as a natural wonder will boost the
country's image as a tourist and cultural spot in addition to its fame
for speedy industrialization and democratization.
all, the tourism revenue of Jeju Island will sharply increase and other
regions of South Korea will have related effects," Chung said. "The
enhancement of its national status will have a more valuable effect."
Reflecting this, the Jeju Development Institute, a local think tank,
said the annual number of foreign tourists may rise a maximum 73.6
percent, translating into an additional 1.2 trillion won (US$1.06
billion) for the local economy.
Jeju Governor Woo Geun-min also said that it will open a new chapter in the island's tourism industry.
"Now, we have gained confidence that Jeju can be attractive to the
world," he said. He vowed that the island will use the opportunity to
bolster its tourism industry to the next level.
regional administration said that efforts will be made to work with the
other new seven wonders sites and to boost the island's many
awe-inspiring natural assets in cooperation with the central government.
The island will push for a special law to win more national support
and expand important infrastructure such as its airport to accommodate
In 2002, Jeju was designated as a "biosphere
reserve" by UNESCO and listed as a World Natural Heritage Site in 2007.
It was also awarded "geopark" status last year, becoming the only place
on the planet to receive all three UNESCO honors.
however, suffered from a slow start, having set up a support committee
one year after rivals in other countries. The relatively small number of
people on the island and low overseas awareness of its beauties were
other obstacles it had to overcome.
The Swiss foundation,
meanwhile, said the announcement reflects provisional results of the
voting and that the calculations are now being validated and
independently verified with the confirmed winners to be announced early
next year during the official inauguration ceremonies.
Jeju Island authorities, however, claimed that there is little likelihood of any changes in the results.
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