Magic of Expo melting in the Spanish sun

EXPO '92 closed in Seville early this morning, with firework displays, lasers, water shows, speeches, and vast quantities of food and drink for hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The sun shone brightly for the last day of the world fair, drying off the rain that had saturated the site at the weekend. The streets bristled with heavily armed policemen, some resting pump-action shotguns on their hips as they cruised the streets on their Harley Davidson motorcycles. King Juan Carlos, the Prime Minister, Felipe Gonzalez, and the entire cabinet were among the visitors, the more distinguished being ferried by helicopters that provided a clattering soundtrack to the big day.

But the question hanging over Seville is how much of this excitement will last when the circus has moved on. The organisers have a battery of statistics to prove the success of the event, which has put new life into the idea of universal exhibitions.

It has also brought wealth and world attention to Andalucia, an underpopulated and deprived region which is highly dependent on agriculture. The budget for the event itself reached dollars 2.5bn ( pounds 1.47bn), over the levels anticipated, though the organisers say that expenditure and revenues balance out. Billions of dollars have been spent on the region, bringing a new high-speed train link with Madrid and a smart new airport that is more like a luxury hotel than a regional hub.

But some of the statistics do not quite add up. Though the 42 million visits to Expo surpassed the target of 36 million, the number of visitors was below the 18 million forecast. This was because it was the inhabitants of Seville who took the greatest interest in the spectacle. Only one-third of the visitors came from abroad.

Now the pavilions, weird and wonderful concoctions of modernism, post-modernism and traditionalism, will be emptied; most will be dismantled. New uses must be found for those that will stay. The 530-acre site, previously a patch of marshy ground, may become a research centre, a university or a theme park, elements of which are already present in the exhibitions. One of the more bizarre legacies of the Expo will be the chunk of glacier that Chile imported for its pavilion; it is to be left to melt in the Guadalquivir.

The big question for Seville and Andalucia is whether the benefits of Expo will disappear in the same way. One building has already been earmarked as an unemployment office for those left jobless by the end of the party.

There has already been some local grumbling. The Expo Commissioner, General Emilio Cassinello, and Jacinto Pellon, chairman of the Expo state company, have been attacked by rightwingers, demanding an inquiry into Expo's financial management.

Mr Cassinello is tipped as Spain's next ambassador in London, the reward for a job well done. A year that has seen not just the Expo but the Barcelona Olympics has clearly given added prestige to the country.

It is ironic that in a year of such high-profile events, it is precisely that confidence that has seeped out of the country. Spain's public optimism is belied by looming recession and the government's need to use currency controls to defend the peseta.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect