Shanghai is determined the 2010 World Expo will be a serious success.
So far it has dedicated $45 billion to spruce up the city, which locals insist is far more international and cosmopolitan than the Chinese capital to the north. (Bit like the arguments between Sydney and Melbourne.)
Shanghai is widening roads, building bridges and renovating its riverside walk along the Bund, a neighborhood of colonial-era buildings.
High-speed rail and subway lines are being expanded, and the airport is adding new terminals. Old neighborhoods are being leveled and residents relocated to make way for upgrades and Expo pavilions.
To tackle air pollution, the city has banned high-emission vehicles downtown and introduced a smoking ban in public places.
A slew of new luxury hotels is also gearing up for the Expo, including two InterContinental locations — the Peninsula and the stylish Hotel Indigo, a boutique property.
LA Times forecasts about 70 million visitors for the World Expo, which will run May 1 to Oct. 31. This should not have a massive effect on hotel room rates, because the Expo will last six months instead of two weeks.
The American pavilion had, until July, failed to secure enough funding to break ground. It eventually got the money and is now steaming full speed ahead.