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Expo will lift nation's economy: top city official       Updated: 2009-04-29 10:49

BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhua) -- The 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, the largest metropolis and an economic powerhouse in eastern China, will spur the nation's economy at a time when the global financial crisis has not yet bottomed out, according to a top city official.

The six-month expo, due to open in May next year, will lift China's economy, with investments and employment opportunities, boosting consumption in the tourism and commerce sectors, Shanghai's Party Chief Yu Zhengsheng, who is also the vice-chairman of the expo's organizing committee, was quoted by Wednesday's China Daily as saying.

"This year, ahead of the expo, is going to be very critical and we are actively pushing our preparations for the massive event in an orderly manner," he said.

Most foreign participants have started constructing their exhibition halls, and by the end of this year, all the landmark venues for the expo, such as the China Pavillion and the Expo Center, will complete construction, Yu said.

The metropolis is also on track to finish construction of its tunnels, rails and roads well in time for the event, and will continue with its efforts to improve the environment around the expo venue, he said.

"There will be massive job opportunities in areas such as logistics, creative industries and facilitating service sectors like food and beverage, shopping, transportation and sightseeing," said Yu, adding some 70 million visitors were expected in Shanghai during the expo.

Expo organizers will soon launch a program to recruit college graduates to fill 13 categories of job vacancies.

Yu said to host the event successfully, it is important to speed up the integration of the Yangtze River Delta, and called on Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces in the region to work together in the preparations for the expo.

The Shanghai Party chief admitted that the global financial turmoil has brought up some "practical difficulties" for the participating countries and institutions, but so far, all participants remained quite active. He said the expo will become avenue for discussing ways to combat the economic crisis.

"The organizers will strive to provide all participants with high-quality and efficient services, and work to lower their costs," Yu said.

The 100-million-U.S. dollar supporting fund China pledged during the bidding process is in place and it is expected that more than 100 developing nations will benefit from it, he said.

So far, 18,000 Shanghai households, formerly located in the expo area, have been relocated, doubling their average household living area to 75 square meters from the previous 30 sq m.

Local authorities expect the anticipated 70 million visitors to the Shanghai World Expo will bring more than 300 billion yuan in tourism revenue to the city, up nearly 50 percent from last year.

Tourism revenue will contribute to 9 percent of the city's GDP, according to Dao Shuming, head of the Shanghai municipal tourism bureau.

There will be 500 star hotels and 4,000 hostels in operation in Shanghai by 2010, with an estimated accommodation capacity of 500,000 beds, according to the city's tourism bureau.

The neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces will also offer 150,000 beds in addition during the Expo.