Shanghai to become convention center

08:23, May 25, 2010      

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The city's meeting and conference market might have suffered over the past few years from the crippling effects of the financial crisis, but forecasts are promising, made even more so by Expo 2010 Shanghai, according to tourism experts.

The city is expected to present itself to the world with a new image as a meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) destination, thanks to the global attention and exposure from the Expo, according to the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration.

"After the Expo, Shanghai will become a famous international MICE destination," said Cheng Meihong, deputy director of Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration. "The tourism industry will benefit from the relatively young but growing business as part of post-Expo effects."

Added to the collection of large-scale conference venues such as the Shanghai Exhibition Center and the Shanghai International Convention Center, the new Expo Center boasts 140,000 square meters of space with a helicopter pad on its roof. As one of the few structures that will remain on the Expo site permanently, the huge building will help hotels in Shanghai bounce back from the recession.

"Every hotel in Shanghai will be full with the Expo Center on the horizon," said Thomas Mueller, executive board member of International Branded Hotels of Shanghai. "Shanghai will be in the circle of transnational enterprises' global tours once equipped with such high-standards in MICE facilities."

"For business hotels such as us, it guarantees occupancy," said Mueller, who is also general manager of the Sheraton Shanghai Hongqiao.

With Expo fever rising in Shanghai, the hospitality industry has its fingers crossed for the event. The city has built about 175 new star-rated hotels, all of which were slated for completion before the Expo began on May 1. That brought Shanghai's total number of star-rated hotels to 500, compared to 325 in 2008.

Around 100,000 guestrooms from hotels in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, both within two hours' drive of Shanghai, will also be used during the Expo.

Sharing its Expo cake with neighboring provinces and cities, Shanghai is generous when talking about transferring the concept from "tourist import" to "tourist export". Cheng said: "We want to share the 70 million Expo visitors with our neighboring provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang (provinces) and even further. But how to move tourists to nearby cities is our main challenge."

Strategies that encourage visitors who flock to Shanghai for the Expo to go to nearby cities have been listed by various cities' tourism administrations. Coupons and discounts appear to be the most attractive and effective ones.

Hangzhou plans to give away 40 million yuan worth of free tourism vouchers to draw more sightseers during the Expo after the city's success with coupons last year. With most of them distributed inside the Expo Garden, the coupons are valid from the beginning of May to the end of November. Full-price Expo tickets in hand, visitors are also given the option of receiving 10 percent off if they plan to climb Huangshan Mountain in Anhui province from May 1 to Oct 31.

Source:China Daily


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