The Seven Tourist Traps Of The World

by Joe Lavin

Over the weekend, a new seven wonders of the world were named, based on
the results of an Internet poll, because, as we all know, there is no
better way to decide something important than with an online poll.
(Click here if you agree!) New 7 Wonders, a Swiss non-profit
organization, chose the new wonders, based on the results of over 100
million cell phone and Internet votes. In no particular order, here's
what they came up with:

The Great Wall of China
The Colosseum in Rome
The Taj Mahal in India
The Incan Ruins of Machu Pichu in Peru
The Ruins of Petra in Jordan
The Mayan City of Chichen Itza in Mexico
The Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro

Sadly,
the Grover Cleveland Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike did not
quite make the cut, but, hey, there's always next time. As you can
imagine, the list has created much controversy, especially among those
countries whose wonders did not make the list. For example, Egypt is
particularly galled that the Giza Pyramids did not make it, especially
since they are the only of the original ancient seven wonders that still
exist today.

Understandably, the Egyptians were offended that
the Pyramids even had to compete for a spot on this “ridiculous” list.
Egypt's antiquities supremo Zahi Hawass told the Agence France-Presse
that the contest “has no value.” He also said, “This contest will not
detract from the value of the pyramids, which is the only real wonder of
the world.” One lesson is clear; don't go messing with an antiquities
supremo, whatever that might be. In the end, voting was stopped for the
Pyramids, and they were made an honorary wonder, which probably didn't
make the Egyptians any more pleased.

UNESCO, the cultural wing of
the United Nations that names world heritage sites, was also annoyed by
the contest. They were disturbed that the list only allowed for seven
wonders. Christian Manhart, UNESCO's press officer, said that the list
sent a “negative message to countries whose sites have not been
retained” This is sort of the “let's not make Stonehenge sad” theory of
choosing, but he does have a point. It's tough to say that runners-up
like the Easter Island Statues, the Hagia Sofia, and the Eiffel Tower
are really not as wondrous as any of the wonders that did make it.

The
United States did have one site nominated, the Statue of Liberty, but
such is the animosity towards the USA these days that the Statue came in
near the bottom of the poll. Some in the audience in Portugal, where
the announcement took place, even booed the Statue of Liberty. Not
surprisingly, Washington's Cheney the Impaler Statue was also widely
denounced by the crowd. (The Cheney Statue is similar to the Christ the
Redeemer Statue, except that a single finger on each hand is raised.)

Speaking
of Christ the Redeemer, there were some voting irregularities, as many
were surprised when the Brazilian statue surged onto the list in late
voting. Brazil even launched a “Vote for the Christ” campaign, in which
cell phone companies didn't charge those who voted with their phones.
Easter Island tried a similar strategy for their statues until they
realized that nobody there could get a cell phone signal.

Interestingly,
in this contest, people were even allowed to vote twice if they paid $2
— you know, much like other elections, except in this case the
corruption was straightforward. Maybe we should try this in presidential
elections. The money could even go to charity. We already know
elections are bought. At least, this way, some good might come from it.
Besides, without the need to learn about political action committees or
the difference between hard and soft money, politics would become a lot
simpler.

Luckily, I have seen two of the wonders in person — The
Great Wall of China and the Colosseum. The Great Wall fully deserves
its spot, but I'm not so sure about the Colosseum. To be honest, during
my brief visit to Italy, I was actually more impressed with both the
Vatican and the Cathedral in Florence.

Then again, to be fair, I
was twenty-one at the time and was also impressed by the fact that you
could buy beer at the Rome McDonald's, so my opinion here might not be
all that relevant.

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