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Liverpool prepares for World Expo spectacle in Shanghai

2009. 1 May

( city has 365 days to finalise its plans for its presence at the World Expo in 2010. Alex Turner reports on its progress

MAY 1, 2010, is the day that Liverpool will start a sales pitch that will last for six months and could generate up to £50m in the next 10 years.

Exactly one year today, the city will welcome the first of an estimated 1m visitors to its pavilion at the Shanghai Expo.

It is targeting its message at potential tourists, students, businessmen and investors to showcase the attractions of the city and the North West region.

Liverpool is already two years into its planning for the event, which will be four times bigger than the previous World Expo in Japan, with 70m visitors expected to attend.

Liverpool's director of operations for the Expo, Phil Southward, and Liverpool City Council' s chief executive, Colin Hilton, have just returned from Shanghai where they saw how the construction work was progressing.

Mr Southward said: “Only when you see the sheer scale of the site do you realise what an amazing event the Expo is going to be. The construction schedule is on target, and the Chinese authorities are determined to build an event which will be uniquely memorable.

He met representatives from the Expo Bureau and the British authorities to discuss operational details such as the technical build requirements for the pavilion, accommodation for Expo attendees and staffing, as he prepares to welcome 6,000 visitors a day to the Liverpool pavilion.

An independent report by consultants Scott Wilson has set out the rewards Liverpool and the region can expect from its presence at the Expo.

Increases have been forecast in the number of Chinese tourists and students, as well as a rise in exports and additional inward investment.

The report sets out “relatively conservative” forecasts – such as an additional 100 students a year from 2013 and a 0.25% increase in annual regional exports from 2012, peaking after four years – which it forecasts will generate benefits of L 5.5m.

However it goes on to say that “using an upside scenario it is possible the benefit or gross value added (GVA) could range between L 15.6m to L 47.5m in the 10 years following the Expo.

Liverpool will exhibit in the Urban Best Practice Pavilion, promoting how Liverpool as a modern, leading city has developed and prospered while conserving its rich history as a World Heritage site.

The city will be placed near Cairo, Venice and Chinese garden cities Hangzhou and Suzhou, which are expected to be a big draw for visitors.

Liverpool's pavilion will be split into a show area, an exhibition area and a marketing suite with meeting rooms which will focus on the different target audiences.

It will have six different themes which will change each month and will include culture and sport, the knowledge sector and professional services.

The city's presence is being led by a partnership of Liverpool City Council and the Liverpool Shanghai Partnership, supported by economic development company Liverpool Vision and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA).

Liverpool City Council has committed £300,000 and the NWDA is providing £1.25m.

While in Shanghai, Mr Southward also met with Chinese Expo officials and representatives from the British Chambers of Commerce and UK Trade and Investment to discuss potential support which might be available to companies sponsoring Liverpool's presence.

Mr Southward said: "Confirmation of the NWDA's 1.25m contribution assures the delivery of the pavilion and its content and therefore guarantees our presence at Expo 2010.

"This week, we have been able to nail down some of the administrative and logistical issues and determine the level of additional benefits we can offer our sponsors over and above what is already committed."

Talks with other public and private sector organisations looking to sponsor Liverpool are ongoing after the launch of the search for partners in March as organisers look to attract a further 1.5m in sponsorship.

"We have already held discussions with a number of private sector companies about sponsorship, and it is clear that there is significant interest across the region and not just Merseyside", he added.

"Liverpool will be deliberately positioned at the Expo as the gateway to the North West, so its pavilion will showcase the assets of the entire region, both as a student and tourist destination and as a potential source of invaluable commercial relationships."

He is confident that, with sponsorship packages ranging from L 7,500 to L 100,000, any business wishing to benefit from the city's presence at the Expo will be able to participate and build new business relationships.

Mr Southward is looking forward to the final year of preparation to make sure that Liverpool gets the most out of its six months in Shanghai.

He said: "We must take every opportunity to enhance the impact of the Liverpool pavilion at the Expo, so that we can showcase the city, the city region and the North West on a world stage."

p>Liverpool city council chief executive COLIN HILTON, who has just returned from Shanghai, explains why he believes Expo 2010 is such a huge opportunity for the city

I INEVITABLY contrast both of our great cities.

One is a growing mega city of 20m people and the powerhouse of China. The other is slowly pulling round almost a century of population decline and re-establishing itself as a creative and thriving international city.

Yet, despite the huge differences in scale, we have many issues in common in meeting the challenges of urban life in the 21st century.

For both cities, these challenges are about maintaining a good quality of life for people and a healthy environment amid rapid economic, technological and social change.

That is why it is important – and, indeed, globally significant – that Shanghai is taking the lead through Expo 2010 in creating a special zone of exhibitions to pick out the best urban practice in the world, and to use it as a resource from which we can all learn.

We should all be very proud that Liverpool is one of 50 cities selected to be part of this exhibition zone, and that the city council has been the driving force behind this achievement.

Even more so because it is our character as a city that has proven so attractive to the Expo organisers and, in particular, how we use that to promote our regeneration and evolve our city to meet those common challenges.

Just as we need to evolve a learning culture within the council and among our partners, so we must also have the ambition and confidence to engage on a world stage of learning and development.

Liverpool does not have to be a mega city in scale like Shanghai to leave a big impression – it just has to have the conviction that it can do so.

So, over the coming months, we will be working hard to make our mark at Expo and to use this opportunity to build links with the best practice in cities across the world.