MANILA, Philippines–The city of Vigan is getting its second wind but it is still in danger of being knocked out of the search for the Top 7 cities in the world, according to campaign organizer New7Wonders Foundation.
“Emerging cities such as Vigan, Shenzhen (China) and Quito (Ecuador) have seen improvements but are by no means in the ‘safe’ zone yet, especially as previous experience indicates changes up to the last minute,” the group said of the contest in a statement.
The first of three finalist phases in the global vote to choose the New7Wonders Cities ends in just about three weeks, when the current list of 28 finalists will be pared down to 21.
Citing information from its analytics department, the Switzerland-based foundation said that “landmark cities,” such as Chicago, Seoul and Athens, remain strong.
Still, these famous cities are beginning to show signs of fatigue, suggesting that the energy to compete is not always there, the group said.
It added that “iconic cities,” like Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai and Barcelona, are slipping down and really need to pick up the fight in the last weeks before the next qualifier.
Eamonn Fitzgerald, head of communications for New7Wonders, said actual ranking positions would not be disclosed during the finals.
Open playing field
“However, we can see a lot of movement and still a fairly open playing field,” Fitzgerald said.
To make it to the finals, Vigan passed the evaluation held in October 2013 led by Federico Mayor, a former head of Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
New7Wonders will announce the 21 finalists on July 7. The list will be further shortened to 14 cities on Oct. 7, while the winning cities will be announced on Dec. 7.
Vigan, a trading port long before the Spaniards arrived in the late 16th century, is also up against Durban (South Africa), St. Petersburg (Russia), Casablanca (Morocco), Prague (Czech Republic), London, Istanbul (Turkey), Perth (Australia) and Reykjavik (Iceland).
Other rivals in Asia include Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Beirut, Doha and Kyoto.
Other finalists in the Americas include Vancouver, Mendoza (Argentina), Havana, Mexico City and La Paz (Bolivia).
Last month, the foundation said that inclusion in the previous search for the New7Wonders of Nature had spurred infrastructure development projects in the host locales, including Palawan in the Philippines.
The Puerto Princesa Underground River was among those named in that search that culminated in 2011.
New7Wonders said that this put the Philippines on the global stage as an eco-tourism destination and that the planned expansion of the Puerto Princesa Airport—expected to be finished in early 2017—would have an annual capacity of two million passengers.
The group said similar developments were happening in other New7Wonders of Nature locales, such as Vietnam (Ha Long Bay), Jordan (Petra) and Peru (Machu Picchu).
“We recognize the importance of regional airports as essential gateways for visitors to the different New7Wonders site,” Fitzgerald said.
“Tourism is a global industry and responsible long-term planning in transport infrastructure has the potential to significantly boost sustainable growth in the areas where the New7Wonders are located,” he added.–Ronnel W. Domingo