Turin hosts international meeting for Milan Expo 2015
Organizers say political turmoil in Italy won't hurt world fair04 October, 11:18
(ANSA) - Turin, October 4 - Although the political and economic turmoil that has been roiling Italy hasn't helped the country present its best face to the world, visitors preparing for Milan Expo 2015 don't seem to mind, says a senior official.
Countries continue to sign on to participate in Expo 2015, most recently the African nation of Rwanda, and this has helped raise the list of participating nations to 134, organizers say.
And despite the political turmoil in Rome, more countries are sending their Expo commissioners and delegates to Italy during October to consider how best to participate in the upcoming world's fair, Expo commissioner Giuseppe Sala said earlier this week. "In the coming days, we will see many commissioners from around the world...and there is some concern looking at the (political) situation in Italy," Sala acknowledged during third edition of the International Participants Meeting for Expo Milano 2015 in Turin. Political infighting led Premier Enrico Letta earlier this week to call a confidence motion in his coalition government – which emerged from the vote in a stronger position.
But all of that political wrangling doesn't seem to mean a lot to the foreign visitors – or their Italian hosts, Sala added.
"We feel that Italians believe in (Expo) and that the country is able to build this great event".
As work progresses on Milan Expo, it is expected that the allocation of sites for construction should be finalized by next April with higher levels of participation than in previous world fairs, Sala said.
Officials who gathered in Turin this week applauded preparations for Expo 2015, which will which run from May 1 until October 31 2015 with the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.
"It's a great opportunity for Italy," said Roberto Cota, governor of Piedmont.
Turin Mayor Piero Fassino predicted a strong collaboration between his city and Milan in Expo development.
While Milan Expo is expected to attract as many as 20 million visitors, a good many of those - perhaps up to three million - will also visit Turin, which is only about 145 kilometres away, local officials say.
But the tourism sector in Milan should enjoy the greatest boost, through strong and long-standing benefits after Expo, according to a September survey of 400 tourism operators in the city conducted by CATI for the Chamber of Commerce Milan.
It's expected that a "legacy" of as many as 84,000 jobs will be spun off from the event, with visitors drawn by Milan Expo increasing sales at shops and boosting visits to important monuments.
The survey found that many tourism operators believe that Milan's Duomo is one of its top attractions, cited by about 39% as the city's most significant cultural site.
About 26% said the Castello Sforzesco would be a major tourism draw.
Leonardo da Vinci's world-famous fresco of the Last Supper in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie was cited by about 12% as one of the city's top tourist attractions, while just under 7% predicted that visitors will be interested in the grand La Scala opera house.
Tourism operators have called for improvements to public transportation in and around Milan in order to make the most of the millions of visitors attracted by the world's fair.
That is cited as a priority for 43% of operators surveyed, while 16% said it would be helpful to expand opening hours of services during the six-month run of Milan Expo 2015.
Another 14% said new public toilets would improve the experience for visitors to the area.