On Sunday, Oct 31, 2010, the curtain finally came down on the Shanghai World Expo, but not before the 184 day world’s fair brought together 73 million visitors (3.5 million international visitors) and 190 participating nations, with a total of 264 participating organizations hosting visitors in 200 structures.
By any standard, the size and scale is daunting and will be hard to replicate. The Expo clocked an average of 400,000 daily visitors and a peak of 1.03 million visitors on Oct 16. China spent $4.2 billion on the event, and a mind-boggling $44 billion on infrastructure improvements.
They organized over 10,000 promotional events around the world and over 20,000 cultural events at the Expo, and over 2000 domestic & overseas media turned up to report on the Expo. The massive coverage by international media resulted in over 19.3 million news mentions.
The same massive size and scale applies to the tourism impact of the Expo on Shanghai, not to mention the boost to the tourism economies of participating nations.
According to the CNTA (National Tourism Administration), the direct tourism income from the Shanghai World Expo runs to over $12 billion. In addition, the spillover effect to adjacent cities caused a 20% bump in tourism services demand.
All told, the number of inbound visitors reached almost 99.8 million in the first nine months of the year. Foreign exchange earnings from inbound visitors hit $33.7 billion – a 15.8% increase from last year.
Also, the benefit to the tourism economies of participating nations has been just as huge. Korea, whose Expo Pavilion attracted 7.25 million visitors, just came out with a report that says the number of Chinese who will visit Korea over the next three years will increase by 450,000, which adds another $562.4 million to the Korean tourism economy.
Canada is also gearing up for an onslaught of Chinese tourists. The Canadian Pavilion received over 6 million visitors, and Canada got itself listed as an ‘Approved Destination’ so that Chinese tourists can now visit Canada without any restrictions.
Individual destinations in the US, especially Hawaii, California and Texas, also did pretty well in ramping up their brand at the Expo. The San Francisco delegation led by Mayor Gavin Newsom got a very warm welcome and lots of publicity as Shanghai’s Sister City.
The very fact that the US had a country pavilion was sufficient to help improve perceptions. It attracted over 7 million visitors, and Jose Villarreal, the US Commissioner General, declared the mission accomplished. He says – quote “We were able to tell an America story in an interesting way to a large number of Chinese citizens, many of whom have had very little exposure to America.”
A study of Expo visitors conducted by Shanghai’s Fudan University before and after they visited the USA Pavilion seems to indicate that Villarreal could be right. According to the study, 95.2 percent of those surveyed said “they want to travel to the USA.”
At a meeting between China’s tourism industry and the CNTA, it was revealed that over two million Chinese tourists are expected to visit the United States by 2015. This year’s total of the number of Chinese tourists visiting the US may already have overshot the previous estimate of 556,000.
Photo – stefano meneghetti