SHANGHAI – With a month to go before the World Expo 2010, China’s financial capital Shanghai is looking to seize the limelight with its promises of glitz and glamour for this year’s global exhibition.
During the past weekend, crowds of locals and tourists crowded the city’s best known riverside promenade, the historic Bund, to witness its reopening and rebirth in time for the Expo.
China is the first developing nation to host the World Expo and officials hope the event, held from May 1-Oct 31, will improve Shanghai’s position as a global city.
“We are still actively working on activities to attract 70 million visitors and we remain positive on reaching this target,” said Connie Cheng, vice director of the Shanghai Tourism Administration.
Shanghai is doing its best to impress visitors with the city government already splashing out more than $700 million on renovating the Bund riverfront, as well a whopping $45 billion to upgrade transport and infrastructure.
While Shanghai is stripping hawkers and various eyesores off its streets, as Beijing did before the Olympics, the event is not targeted primarily for an international audience.
Officials expect only 5 percent of their expected 70 million visitors to be from outside China.
And much of their tourism promotional efforts have been targeted at the potential of China’s domestic tourists to make a trip to Shanghai for the Expo.
A convoy of “Expo caravans” have set off from Shanghai this month touring the neighboring regions and marketing the World Expo to ordinary Chinese.
Officials acknowledge, however, that the showcase exhibition, complete with musical fountains from France and bratwurst sausage from Germany, will be beyond the means of many Chinese.
An average one-day ticket for the Shanghai World Expo costs 160 yuan ($23.50), a princely sum to pay for the country’s low income groups.
Cheng said she was targeting residents living in Shanghai’s neighboring rich coastal provinces to form the bulk of the domestic tourists.
“As a whole, we have put our hopes on tourists from the neighboring Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces,” she said. “These two provinces are one of the wealthiest in China and people there can travel to Shanghai quite conveniently.”