7Wonders Saga Has Ministry Rethinking Strategy

The Jakarta Globe

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism said on Thursday that the New7Wonders of Nature debacle had taught it a very valuable lesson — to conduct a thorough screening of partners that it intended to work with in the future.

The New7Wonders foundation is running an online vote to name the new seven natural wonders of the world. Komodo Island National Park is Indonesia’s entrant.

Indonesia and the foundation have become embroiled in a dispute following the foundation’s allegations that the Ministry had reneged on its commitment to host an event to announce the competition’s winners.

The Ministry, however, said that there had been no agreement signed on the matter and that the foundation was asking for too much to hold the ceremony.

New7Wonders has stated that the Tourism Ministry is no longer allowed to officially support the park’s campaign because it had failed to meet its obligations.

The Ministry said they were scratched from the list because the foundation insisted that Indonesia pay $10 million in licensing fees and Rp 420 billion ($47 million) to host the ceremony. New7Wonders has denied such claims, saying the government’s only commitment was $10 million to support the private group organizing the ceremony.

Todung Mulya Lubis, a lawyer representing the ministry, said it was still mulling legal action against the foundation.

“We want to give them a lesson that as a foundation that attracts worldwide attention, they need to be fair with participants of the competition,” Todung said. “That the Ministry was removed after we refused to pay the millions of dollars must be questioned.

“We have sent them letters and they bounced back to us,” he added. “What kind of organization has no exact address that we can contact?”

Despite the controversy, Todung said, what really mattered was that Komodo Island received the attention it deserved.

Nia Niscaya, the ministry’s director of conventions, said it had only signed a Standard Participation Agreement with the foundation, which did not contain specifics on the matter of payment.

“They had told us that in order to host the award ceremony, we would have to pay a licensing fee of $7 million,” she said. “Suddenly, we were informed it had gone up to $10 million.”

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