Countdown Shanghai 2010: Aussies hope Expo 2010 will lure tourists Down Under

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The Australians are hoping their love of sport will be infectious at World Expo 2010 Shanghai - so much so that it will be among the reasons more Chinese want to head Down Under.

The nation's love of the great outdoors is also one of the main themes of the Australian pavilion at the Shanghai event, which will run from May 1 to October 31.

"As a whole, the pavilion and its programs will respond to the Expo's 'Better City, Better Life' theme by focusing on Australia's cities - many consistently ranked as among the world's most liveable - and our smart solutions for urban living,'' it says on the Australian pavilion website.

And the Australian pavilion at the 2010 Expo will go heavy on promoting the country as a destination, according to Tourism Australia.

Australian tourism chiefs are predicting that the mainland market will within three years account for the third-largest number of tourists to visit their country. At the moment China is ranked fifth, behind New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan.

Figures quoted by Tourism Australia show 356,400 mainland Chinese visited Australia in 2008 and 276,500 arrived in the first nine months of 2009, a year-over-year growth of one percent.

But in September alone, there were 22,900 Chinese visitors - a rise of 19 percent from the same period in 2008.

Tourism Australia now expects the growth in numbers to rise by 11 percent over the next five years.

Australia has also invested heavily in Expo to promote the country as a place to do business. The country is spending AUD$83 million (€50.7 million) on its Shanghai pavilion and associated activities.

So, as well as the tourism angle, organizers say they are pushing "Australia's world class financial services; green building and renewable energy; resources; biotechnology, education; and information and communications technology.''