14 new contracts for Expo 2015

Another nine nations and five organisations have signed up for Expo 2015, announced Commissioner Giuseppe Sala, opening the third International Participants Meeting (IPM) this week.

Newcomers Benin, Colombia, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Lithuania, Mexico, San Marino, Uruguay and Vietnam, as well as Save the Children, WWF, Lions, Fairtrade and Inter Press Service will also soon be joined by the United Kingdom, PM David Cameron announced on Friday.

The two-day meeting saw delegates from over 100 nations already under contract get briefed on progress of work so far. On the second day, discussion centred on visitor experience and promotion. “Expo is a race,” Sala told delegates, “but we are confident about winning. By the end of this year, 30 lots will be ready for 50 per cent of the total. By February we count on reaching the 75 per cent mark, and the rest by April. In November we’ll start work on ‘Palazzo Italia’.”

The third IPM was also the scene for the launch of the “WE – Women for Expo” project by Italy foreign minister Emma Bonino and deputy foreign minister Marta Dassù. The main objective is to create a network of women around the world linked by the subject of nutrition.

"We will invite artists, writers, entrepreneurs and all women around the globe to make their personal contributions to the theme of the Universal Expo 2015 "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life." Diana Bracco, in charge of the Italy pavilion, said: “Women, from an economic and socio-political point of view, have proved to be an extraordinary force for change in every part of the world. That’s why a role for women was an integral part of the Expo project from the start.”

Another initiative announced by commissioner Sala is the cooperation with Genoa’s prestigious Salone Nautico boat show. The plan is for joint promotion of the two events, and a scheme to offer tourist packages for Genoa and Milan is being planned.

Tickets for Expo 2015 will be on sale at €39 from as early as 1 April next year, fully a year before the show opens. Out of the target sales of 24 million, the plan is to sell as many as four or five million in advance bookings. According to estimates by Milan Chamber of Commerce, Expo should give a ten per cent boost to tourist earnings, and create over 80,000 jobs.