Let’s call it what it is: VirtualTourist.com’s 8th Wonder of the World feature is a gimmick. A shameless attempt to lure your eyeballs to their website and encourage interaction.
Thing is, dear reader, this gimmick might just be worthy of your attention. Allow us to explain.
Earlier this year the website put out a call to tourism boards (and similar organisations) around the world, asking them to nominate an ancient, natural or manmade landmark from the area they represent, which they felt could be classed as the 8th Wonder of the World.*
Keen observers of the Seven Wonders meme will note this is far from the first attempt to modernise the list, and that any eighth wonder will have little connection with the entries on the original and most famous list. But let’s put that aside for now.
In all they received 323 nominations. The “8th wonder of the world” will be selected from this short very long list by way of a public vote. Visitors to the site can cast one vote a day. Voting opened on June 3 and is set to close on September 27.
The nominations are extremely diverse. So much so, that it’s kind of ridiculous that they’re pitted against one another.
For example, world-famous skyscraper Empire State Building is up against the obscure roadside curiosity that is Black Diamond’s Black Diamond. Also in the mix are Unesco World Heritage sites like Uluru, spectacular sites of natural interest including the Great Blue Hole and even whole towns (Buenos Aires) and nations (The Maldives). Not to mention, local treasures (such as Stew Leonards’s, a family-owned store) and high-end chain hotels (such as the Mandarin Oriental in Prague). It’s not exactly a fair competition.
VirtualTourist is a US company, so the list is skewed towards America. There are just over 100 (101 at our hastily conducted count) American sites, split between 30 states. There are entries from 58 other countries. England (15), Australia (11) and Canada (11) have the most representatives. Scotland has two entries, while Wales has one. Ireland also has one entry.
Inevitably, given the way the list was put together, there will be glaring omissions. Wieliczka Salt Mine (one of our 3 must-see caves) and the monuments at Mahabalipuram immediately came to our minds. It’s probably no exaggeration to say that a handful of equally strong, yet entirely different, lists of this type could be made.
So why do we think there’s value in this gimmick? Well, we guarantee, yes, guarantee, that if you take the time to look through the list you’ll discover a new interesting place. It’ll take a while of course. So it might be worth bookmarking the page and coming back to it on a rainy day.
Check out our random sample of 15 nominees below. The featured image is of Jerash, north of Jordan.
*What encouraged Tourism Boards, Chambers of Commerce and Visitor Bureaus to make submissions? In VirtualTourist’s words, “the winning wonder will receive a massive media relations campaign push”.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…