Saturday, November 12, 2011

South Korean Island Jeju chosen as 'new natural wonder'

JEJU ISLAND (Yonhap) -- A Korean resort island, Jeju, has been listed as a "new natural wonder of the world" in a world-wide poll, a Switzerland-based organization announced Saturday.

The subtropical volcanic island south of the Korean peninsula was selected along with six other areas -- the Amazon River, Komodo in Indonesia, Iguazu Falls in Argentina, Vietnam's Halong Bay, South Africa's Table Mountain and the Philippines' Puerto Princesa Underground River, according to the Web site of the New7Wonders foundation in Zurich.

Voting to select the New7Wonders began in 2009 on the Internet and by phone.

Known for a combination of scenic mountains, waterfalls, forests and beaches, Jeju has drawn plenty of honeymooners and other tourists from South Korea and nearby nations.

"A good harmony of human and nature is the characteristics of Jeju Island," said Chung Un-chan, who led the National Committee for Jeju New7Wonders of Nature.

Chung, a former Korean prime minister, 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.

"Most of all, the tourism revenue of Jeju Island will sharply increase and other regions of South Korea will have related effects," he said. "The enhancement of national status will be a more valuable effect."

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.

The natural wonder designation is expected to increase the number of foreign tourists to Jeju by up to 73.6 percent a year, according to the Jeju Development Institute.

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.

Source: The Korea times

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