Thursday, April 25, 2013, 09:18
Qingdao to use expo as launch pad for new growth
By Zhang Zhao

Known for its golden sandy beaches, the Laoshan Mountains and many European-style villas, Qingdao has long been a popular tourist destination in China.

And the arrival of the International Horticultural Expo next year promises to make the city even more attractive to potential visitors, according to the Qingdao city government.

Local government officials said that the investment into the expo will benefit the entire city through an emphasis on a green lifestyle that combines livelihood, business and leisure.

After the expo concludes in October 2014, most of its venues will be kept there and remain open to Qingdao residents and tourists.

"The expo lasts only six months, but follow-up utilization will be a much longer period," said Li Fengli, secretary-general of the expo's executive committee.

"We will let it become part of the people's daily life as a natural and cultural heritage."

There will be a new functional district centered on the location, which is planned to cover a total area of nearly 200 square kilometers.

The site of the expo will become a new landmark tourism attraction. Some of the pavilions will be used to hold other exhibitions, while other facilities may be used for tourism services, cultural exchanges, business and scientific research.

Li noted that the development of the new district will be a long-term plan, and it will have a far-reaching impact.

The local government plans to develop the area into a new growth engine in northern Qingdao, Li said.

"It will be a window to the outside world and help narrow the economic gap between the northern and southern parts of the city," he said.

Compared with the coastal southern regions, the northern areas are relatively less prosperous, so the government has implemented a specialized development model for each region.

The city government will continue to focus on ecological recovery in the Laoshan Mountains as a crucial part of the development of the new district before improving the local infrastructure.

"The horticultural expo is not just a gala of gardening," Qingdao Mayor Zhang Xinqi said.

"More importantly it provides an opportunity to create a more eco-friendly environment that attracts the world's attention like a magnet."

Zhang said the effects of the expo will radiate throughout surrounding regions, promoting their economies and increasing their value.

With the boost to the city's profile that is sure to come from hosting the international event, local authorities expect to attract a number of green industries as well as top talent. There will be a software development park, high-end hotels, R&D centers and headquarter offices for small and medium-sized companies.

The flourishing industries will lead to the development of logistics and business facilities as well as tourism. Transportation infrastructure, such as roads, parking lots and overpasses will be added in the area.

It will also bring changes to the local economic and employment structure. Many former villagers are already finding new jobs in the service sector.

Li also said the data about the planning of the expo, the design of its pavilions as well as the many high-tech approaches used both inside and outside the venues will be sorted and kept as a "collective memory" of the city.

Qingdao to use expo as launch pad for new growth

A gardening worker plants flowers at the expo venue on April 22. (Xu Chongde / For China Daily)

World cultures on display at upcoming exhibition

From the overall planning to the design and construction of a number of main venues and pavilions, the 2014 International Horticultural Expo in Qingdao promises to be a masterpiece that represents the world's top talent in horticulture and architecture.

The government of Qingdao is integrating different styles from around the world into the local history and highlights to give a richer cultural connotation to the event that has been "seldom witnessed in previous horticultural expos in the nation", said local officials.

Many nationally and globally renowned gardening experts have been invited as consultants, such as Doeke Faber, former president of the International Association of Horticultural Producers, Meng Zhaozhen, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and Zhang Qixiang, vice-president of Beijing Forestry University.

Designers from more than 30 teams from around the world took part in the venue planning.

The Theme Pavilion is designed by Ben van Berkel, founder of the renowned UN Studio architectural design firm from the Netherlands.

The design of the Botanical Pavilion comes from the Los Angeles office of HKS Architects while the arrangement of plants inside the pavilion is made by a British company.

"The expo will showcase not only plants but also cultures," said Li Fengli, secretary-general of the expo's executive committee.

"We will highlight the cultures of China and Shandong province - the birthplace of Confucius. And many participating countries and regions will highlight theirs," Li added.

The organizers have invited international guests from all continents, representing cities, regions and nations that feature distinctive gardening characters to the expo. More than 30 international exhibitors in the International Garden will present various elements.

There will be a French-style village, a German beer garden, ethnic architecture of Nepal and a maze built using plants from Central and South America. Visitors will be allowed to "enjoy the essence of gardening all around the world in a single day", said organizers.

Many countries, including France, Germany, Sweden, Thailand and Japan, have decided to send high-level delegations along with exhibitors.

Construction on 13 national gardens has already begun, and 70 percent of the construction has been completed.