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Thailand eyes 2020 bid

THAILAND is looking to do more than participate in World Expo Shanghai this year. It wants to bid to host the event in 2020.

"The success of the Shanghai Expo has given us the inspiration and aspiration for Thailand to tender our bid for hosting a World Expo in the near future, perhaps in the year 2020," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said at a ceremony marking Thailand National Day at the Expo yesterday.

He didn't disclose details about Thailand's preparations or candidate cities, but said hosting a World Expo would help boost Thailand's economy and promote the country's culture and image.

"Unite with us and let's make World Expo 2020 in Thailand a reality together," the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau said on its website.

According to Bangkok Post, the Thai Cabinet approved in principle the submission of a proposal to host World Expo 2020 last week.

Officials from the convention and exhibition bureau said Thailand would need about 20 billion baht (US$645 million) to upgrade infrastructure like transport, power and water supply facilities.

So far Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai and Chon Buri provinces have offered to host Expo 2020.

At least 15 countries, including the United States, United Arab Emirates, and Australia, have already submitted a proposal to host World Expo 2020, the Bangkok Post reported.

Thailand officials said previously if Thailand gets to host the World Expo in 2020, it won't be as big or expensive as the one in Shanghai this year.

They added that the investment it brings will be key to future development.

As one of the most visited tourist destinations, Thailand's tourism industry has been battered by the political turmoil since a coup in 2006.

Vigorous effort

The protracted political crisis has scared tourists away and cost billions in lost tourist dollars. The number of Chinese visitors to Thailand fell to 777,000 last year, 50,000 fewer than in 2008, according to Panitan Wattanayagorn, deputy secretary-general to Abhisit.

But as domestic violence begins to subside, Thailand is making a vigorous effort to lure tourists back to the country that is famed for its gorgeous beaches.

Thailand has leveraged its Expo participation to burnish its image as a tourist haven and reassure people that the country is a safe place to travel, Abhisit told Shanghai Daily on Saturday.

"We continue to see some sporadic incidents, but on the whole we've seen a clear trend toward stabilization," the Thai prime minister said.

"So it (the Expo) is a good opportunity to showcase Thailand, since there are a number of places with continued interest in Thailand as an attractive destination," he said.

So far some 4 million people have visited the Thailand Pavilion, which averages about 35,000 visitors per day.


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