İzmir and a better world

İzmir is a candidate in 2020 for hosting expo, one of the world’s biggest fairs dating back to the 19th century.

Turkey has been taking part in Expo, first held in London in 1851, ever since Ottoman times. This giant international event, which adds value to the places where it is held, as well as leaving behind lasting works of architecture, is going to be based on the theme “New Routes to a Better World / Health For All” in 2020. We talked with Mahmut Özgener, Chairman of the EXPO 2020 Izmir Executive Committee, about the themes of the fair and Izmir’s candidacy.

Turkey will be the winner!

Why is Izmir a candidate for Expo 2020?

Expo is a giant event. A world fair that attracts millions of people to the place where it is held and leaves behind lasting monuments and urban development, and triggers transformation. One of the best-known symbols of Paris today, the Eiffel Tower, is Expo that was held there. The market value, awareness and popularity of the cities that host it soar exponentially in an instant. International public opinion sits up and takes notice. Hosting Expo is therefore very important for many reasons.

What will holding the event in Izmir bring the city?
Izmir’s hosting the event will have a very positive impact on the city’s architecture and development. Throughout history Izmir has been a producer of culture and a center of attraction that developed through trade between Europe and the East thanks to its location. Holding Expo in Izmir will pave the way to a city that responds to today’s needs for urban transformation in a way that is befitting to the 21st century yet preserves the values of the past. But in the end it will be Turkey that is the winner. Very big investments are going to come to Izmir. An extensive fairground is going to be built in the İnciraltı area, which will ensure large-scale investments in the city’s infrastructure.

How many visitors are you expecting?
Some 73 million visitors came to the last Expo, which was held in Shanghai. We are aiming to attract around 43 million to Expo 2020 Izmir. Attracting so many visitors will create a golden opportunity for promoting Turkey.

Another theme of Expo 2020 is Heath for All. What are your thoughts about that?
Izmir has a vast potential for health tourism. Not only that but transportation to the scores of nearby centers is also extremely convenient. This is a geothermal region, and health sector investments are going to be made in several areas currently idle. All these will be important gains for Izmir.

How are you preparing for Expo 2020?
Nothing could be more natural than for Izmir to be selected for Expo 2020. Turkey is looking now to host world-scale events, and they are being managed extremely professionally. In addition to our experience at Expo 2015, it is also very important and encouraging that the city itself is taking ownership of the project.  The people of Izmir and the non-governmental organizations are lending it their full support and doing all they can. We too are pursuing and intensifying our efforts for Expo 2020 Izmir in all areas relating to our corporate infrastructure.

What is expo?
Aka the universal exposition or world’s fair, EXPO is one of the world’s oldest and largest international events. It is held every five years in a different city and runs for six months.

Expo 2012
An Expo on the theme ‘The Living Ocean and Coast’ is being held in the South Korean city of Yeosu between May and August this year. Turkey is taking part with a 1,000-square meter stand.