Bangkok (The Nation-Thailand/ANN) - The Thai Cabinet yesterday picked Ayutthaya as Thailand's official bid city to host World Expo 2020.
Akapol Sorasuchart, president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), said the Kingdom was the first country to approve a city officially in the race to host the mega-event.
Ayutthaya came out ahead of the other two shortlisted provinces, Chon Buri and Chiang Mai, as it is close to Bangkok and has high potential for development as a new tourism landmark after the expo. The short distance from Bangkok means it would be easy for travellers to make one-day trips to the event.
Moreover, if it won the race to host the event, the province would also enhance the capital's future expansion, including the plan to build an extended mass-transit rail system, the Red Line, to Rangsit, Akapol said.
According to the study of the three shortlisted candidates, Chon Buri would already have grown further in both the tourism and industrial sectors, while Chiang Mai faced some limitations.
The TCEB chief said Ayutthaya provincial authori?ties had proposed an area of 240 hectares in Bang Sai district to host the event. Most of the site belongs to the government and is currently partially used as the Bangsai Arts and Crafts Centre founded by Thai Queen Sirikit.
The government would need to purchase more land from private interests and expropriate many households. Expropriation costs are expect?ed to total 1.8 billion baht (US$59.6 million), he added.
Akapol said Thailand and all other candidate nations would proceed with host-city bidding to the Bureau International des Expositions within six months. The official host country will then be selected in 2014.
At this stage, the serious contenders to Thailand include Brazil, Turkey, Russia and Egypt, he added.
The plan is for Ayutthaya to host the World Expo from January to June 2020 under the theme "Balanced Life ... Sustainable Living". Hosting the event is expected to draw 27 million visitors from within the Kingdom and overseas.
Thailand's holding of the expo is estimated to require an investment of Bt31 billion. The event is expected to generate revenue of nearly Bt200 billion, and to boost gross domestic product by 1.3 per cent in 2020.
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