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April 12, 2021

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Homestay villas blossoming ahead of flower expo crowds

AFTER his early retirement from a downtown company in 2012, Chongming District resident Gu Hongbin turned his house into one of the first homestay sites on the island to pump up his wallet.

The successful operation inspired his neighbors to follow suit.

As the 10th China Flower Expo is set to begin next month, all 37 houses in No. 3 Hongqiao Village have been converted into staycation manors under the brand “Gu Bobo’s Homestay” to accommodate some of the visitors to the event.

It costs about 3,500 yuan (US$534) to rent an entire house with five bedrooms. A single room costs 300 to 500 yuan per night. Many of them have been booked by tourists from downtown Shanghai and other provinces who come to experience the countryside charm of the ecological island.

“The expo will be a great opportunity for the homestay businesses on the island,” said Gu, 48. “The villagers’ average annual income is expected to be over 150,000 yuan.”

Preparation for the expo, which takes place from May 21 to July 2, is now in its final stage. The island, one of the world’s largest alluvial islands that aims to become a world-class ecological island, is upgrading its agricultural industry and environment to receive visitors from across the globe.

The site is one of the stops on the ongoing “China Along the Expressways” tour, which was launched on Tuesday to celebrate the country’s expressway network — the largest in the world — spanning 160,000 kilometers. Journalists from state and local media have been invited to explore the economic, cultural and tourism development along the expressways.

The island is connected to other parts of Shanghai by the Changjiang Tunnel Bridge expressway, which opened in October 2009 and has been driving the rapid development of the island ever since.

The expo is one of the world’s most important flower events and is held every four years. The 2021 expo is themed “Blossom of China Dream.” The event will showcase various flowers and plants from across the world as well as the ecological environment of Chongming. China’s provinces and cities, flower associations, Shanghai’s overseas sister cities, world-famous architects and companies will host exhibitions in pavilions and outdoors during the event.

Shanghai has released the event’s volunteer logo, an egret flying in front of a flower, an homage to Chongming’s abundant natural resources and the energy of the young volunteers.

“It’s the first time the expo is taking place in the countryside,” said Wu Jun, vice director of the expo’s exhibition and service center.

Six trial operations were launched on Saturday on to test its capacity for the event, Wu said. Construction of the expo site, covering 10 square kilometers, will be completed by the end of April, while interiors will be finished by May 15.

The expo is expected to attract 70,000 daily visitors on workdays and 85,000 during weekends and holidays.

About 3 million people are expected to visit the district during the expo, Wu said. Organizers have prepared close to 45,000 beds in hotels and homestay sites.

The expo will run from 9am to 9pm every day. The pavilions will close at 6pm, when night operations will begin.

Visitors are encouraged to take public transport to the expo site, which includes the Dongping National Forest Park.


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