World Expo 2017
My trip to Astana, Kazakhstan coincided with Astana’s Expo 2017. And believe me, the city was proud. Signs were eeeeverywhere throughout Astana, the lights making the city glow at night.
World Expos are an excellent way to learn about the host country and has the potential to be huge lift to the local economy and infrastructure. They’re also a perfect way to bring so many different cultures together, learning about the participating countries that you may know very little about (for me, this was Malaysia, Algeria, ++). Most of all, they’re cheesy and fun.
And it being a fair, you gotta have ice cream, right?
Making the construction for a world expo worth the taxpayers’ money has proven to be a challenge for host countries in the past. Either the facilities are built too cheaply, or the city’s ambitions don’t line up with the everyday reality of the population. A prime example of this is Seville, where the 1992 expo site is more or less a ghost town with lots of overgrowth and decay. Seville at the time was an already-established city, and the expo was built too far out. The incentives to move offices wasn’t big enough, and there were too few residential spaces. As a result, businesses didn’t move into the area after the event, and the space was forgotten as soon as the expo was over.
For Astana, however, I have high hopes along with the organizers. They plan on turning the area into the financial center, with companies already pledging to move in after the expo has wrapped up. Getting companies to be on board for these sorts of things is crucial for the area to “stay alive” even after the visitors go home.
Astana has received fewer visitors than they had hoped, but I still argue that it is pretty impressive for an underrated country and little-marketed event.