Table Mountain’s status as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature has become official after an international audit confirmed the result of a global voting process.
The New7Wonders Foundation based in Switzerland has confirmed that Table Mountain’s “provisional” status after international voting closed on 11 November 2011 has been changed to “official”. The results followed three years of intense campaigning in a contest that drew more than 100 million votes from 220 countries worldwide.
Table Mountain is the 5th site to have its status confirmed, along with Halong Bay, Iguazu Falls, Jeju Island and Puerto Princesa Underground River. The Amazon and Komodo Island remain on the provisional list.
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille described the title as “a great accolade for a unique wonder of nature that belongs to all the people of Cape Town, South Africa, Africa and the world. The New Seven Wonders title has great long-term marketing value for Cape Town and South Africa. The wonder becomes part of school curricula, it becomes a “must see” and “bucket list” item for travellers and explorers.”
Sabine Lehmann, chairperson of the Table Mountain official supporters committee (OSC), said the official confirmation would provide a significant boost to the South African tourism industry.
“Visitor numbers to Table Mountain reached record numbers after the mountain was named on the provisional list of seven sites on 11 November 2011, and we expect the official confirmation to further boost visitor interest locally and abroad. This is already the case for the Puerto Princesa Underground River, the New7Wonder site in the Philippines,” Lehmann said.
The Philippines island that is home to the Puerto Princesa Underground River used to have three flights a week and now has 22 flights a week; the site used to attract an average of 150 visitors a day and now has 2 000 visitors a day. “The Island is building a new international airport to cope with the influx of visitors,” Lehmann said.
Lehmann expressed her gratitude to all those who had supported the Vote for Table Mountain campaign including Nobel Peace Prize winners Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former President FW de Klerk, the Springbok rugby team and countless everyday fans.
“I am very grateful to the people of Cape Town, South Africa and the entire African content for making this wonderful news possible,” said Lehmann.
Gary de Kock, regional general manager of SANParks, said: “We value that this award recognizes SANParks’ significant investment in the natural heritage of this beautiful mountain chain and that conservation adds value to the tourism economy.”
Paddy Gordon, manager of the Table Mountain National Park, also welcomed the news:“It is an honour that Table Mountain is now linked to other new and exciting places and we hope that visitors from those places will now visit us in return, and bring new tourism markets with them.”
Bernard Weber, Founder-President of New7Wonders, said it was of great significance that Table Mountain was chosen by voters globally to be the representative of Africa’s unique natural heritage.
“Along with possessing a biodiversity that is exceptionally important, given its proximity to a major city, Table Mountain is notable for the historic role it played in helping Nelson Mandela cope with his long years of imprisonment,” said Weber.
“Through the bars of his cell on Robben Island, the sight of the peak with its table cloth of cloud offered him hope of brighter days to come, and the statement issued by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory on 8 November last year supporting the call to vote for Table Mountain was both an endorsement of the South African finalist and a tribute to its ability to inspire.”
The Table Mountain OSCwillnow planthe official inauguration ceremony. An impressive commemorative plaque will be officially presented by the New7Wonders Foundation to Table Mountain in October.