The number of visitors to the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, grew by 107 percent between 2006 — the year before its election as one of the New7Wonders of the World — and 2011. This extraordinary rate of growth is cited in a paper titled “El Turismo Internacional y el ‘Efecto Maravilla’” (“International Tourism and the ‘Wonder Effect’”), by Gerardo Alonso Schwarz of the Fundación Mediterránea, a private not-for-profit organization based in Córdoba, Argentina.
Being named one of New7Wonders brings not only opportunities but also challenges, says Schwarz. The main tasks for the host nations of listed sites are the need for enhanced infrastructure, better regional tourism products and improved international flight connections to each destination.
Now that Iguazu Falls, which straddle the Argentine-Brazilian border, have been named as one of the New7Wonders of Nature, the Fundación Mediterránea is examining the impact of the listing on the regional tourism industry. Considering what he calls the “Wonder Effect” as it is manifested around the globe, Gerardo Alonso Schwarz looked at visitor statistics to the sites named as the New7Wonders of the World in 2007. According to data from 2011, the top five attracted the following numbers:
• 5.4 million tourists visited the Colosseum in Italy
• 5 million tourists visited the Taj Mahal in India
• 2.3 million tourists visited the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil
• 1.4 million tourists visited Chichen-Itzá in Mexico
• 832,000 tourists visited Machu Pichu in Peru
Between 2006 and 2011, visits to the Taj Mahal rose by 85 percent, to Chichen-Itzá by 53 percent, to Machu Pichu by 51 percent and to the Colosseum by 26 percent. Gerardo Alonso Schwarz noted that during the same period international tourist numbers worldwide grew 16 percent. This confirms that the New7Wonders title is a significant driver of international tourism.
In the case of Iguazu Falls, a total of 1,224,253 tourists visited the Parque Nacional Iguazú in Argentina during 2011, an increase of three percent over 2010, while the Parque Nacional do Iguaçu in Brazil, recorded 1,394,187 visitors, which represents growth of 10 percent over the previous year. During the last decade, the Argentinian park experienced overall growth of 162 percent, and the Brazilian park recorded growth of 89 percent.
The Fundación Mediterránea promotes research on economic issues and works to create a better understanding of regional economic problems in Latin America. The Zurich-based New7Wonders Foundation is dedicated to creating “Global Memory” by leveraging the networked power of communications technologies and social media. It organizes worldwide voting campaigns that enable millions of people to take part in democratic decision making.