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Lee: World Expo to make host city Yeosu global tourist attraction

Malaysian traditional performance is underway at the Yeosu Expo on Monday, May 13, 2012. (Yonhap)
Malaysian traditional performance is underway at the Yeosu Expo on Monday, May 13, 2012. (Yonhap)

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Monday he believes the World Expo under way in the southwestern port city of Yeosu will help promote the host city as one of the world’s best tourist destinations.

The 93-day fair opened Saturday, involving 104 countries, 10 international organizations and numerous companies under the theme of “Living Ocean and Coast,” with emphasis on sustainable resource development, preservation and creative maritime activities.

“For the first time in history, the Yeosu Expo will be a green expo whose themes center around ocean and environment,” Lee said in a biweekly radio address. “On the occasion of the Yeosu Expo, I hope collective efforts will be newly initiated to save the ocean, the origin of life, and make a more peaceful earth.”

Lee recorded the address while in Beijing for annual summit talks with China and Japan.

Lee said it is meaningful that Yeosu, a small provincial city 455 kilometers from Seoul, plays host to such a large-scale international event, adding that the production and added-value inducement effects of the fair are estimated to reach 12 trillion won (US$10.5 billion) and 5.7 trillion won, respectively.

The event is also expected to create some 80,000 jobs, he said. 

The Wonder Girls perform at Yeosu Expo. (Yonhap)
The Wonder Girls perform at Yeosu Expo. (Yonhap)

What is more significant than these economic values, however, is that the Yeosu Expo, expected to draw about 10 million spectators, represents a golden opportunity to let people from around the globe appreciate the beauty of the southern coastal area of Korea, Lee said.

“Just as Vancouver, Canada, grew into a world-class city after the 1986 Expo, Yeosu and the southern coast are certain to be reborn as a top-class resort and tourist destination,” he said.

Boasting picturesque coasts and archipelagos, Lee said the area and its vicinity are also blessed with terrific weather conditions.

On top of that, the region is home to rich historical and cultural legacies, making it one of the world’s best tourist resorts, he said.

In preparations for the exposition, the government has also significantly beefed up railroad, highway and other infrastructure in the region so tourists can travel there faster and more conveniently than before, Lee said. (Yonhap News)