Shanghai greets first World Expo tourists


SHANGHAI – A chartered flight carrying about 150 tourists from the Republic of Korea (ROK) arrived in Shanghai Thursday afternoon, the first such tourist flight to reach the city from overseas for the 2010 World Expo.

They were presented with the Expo mascots “Haibao” at a welcome ceremony held by the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Bureau at a hotel in the evening.

The tour group was organized by the municipal government of Yosu. The group, consisting of civil servants, lawmakers and citizens, was led by Yosu mayor Oh Hyun-sup.

“We have a special feeling toward the World Expo, because Yosu will host the recognized World Expo in 2012,” Oh said.

The government-organized tour group is expected to draw on the experience of Shanghai in hosting the World Expo.

Yosu plans to arrange another three chartered tourist flights, or more if needed, to Shanghai for the World Expo.

“I have planned to come here since January, and I am very happy to be able to visit the Expo among the first group of tourists,” said a Yosu tourist Ku Min Joung, who brought her three children to Shanghai.

She told Xinhua that she will visit the ROK Pavilion first and then the China National Pavilion on May 1 when the Expo opens.

“Two years later, Yosu will host the World Expo, and I think I will get some useful travel experience in Expo Park,” she said.

The Shanghai World Expo, which is to run from May 1 till Oct. 31, is expected to attract 70 million visitors from across the globe.

ROK President Lee Myung-bak, among 20 heads of state or government, will attend the Expo opening ceremony Friday.

To enhance people-to-people exchanges, China and ROK have designated 2010 as Visit China Year and 2012 as Visit Korea Year.

ROK will send about 1 million tourists to the Shanghai World Expo this year, according to the ROK tourism authorities.