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Shanghai's in the game

September 20, 2009|David Pierson | Reuters; Times Wires

1 China

After watching Beijing bask in the glory of last year's Olympic Games, Shanghai has stepped into the fray in a big way to prepare for the 2010 World Expo.

The coastal Chinese metropolis has dedicated $45 billion to spruce up the city, which locals insist is far more international and cosmopolitan than the Chinese capital to the north.

Shanghai is widening roads, building bridges and renovating its iconic riverside walk along the Bund, a neighborhood of colonial-era buildings.

High-speed rail and subway lines are being expanded, and the airport is adding new terminals. Old neighborhoods are being leveled and residents relocated to make way for upgrades and Expo pavilions.

To tackle air pollution, the city has banned high-emission vehicles downtown and introduced a smoking ban in public places.

A slew of new luxury hotels is also gearing up for the Expo, including two InterContinental locations -- the Peninsula and the stylish Hotel Indigo, a boutique property.

About 70 million visitors are expected for the World Expo, which will run May 1 to Oct. 31. But industry analysts said room rates aren't expected to double or triple, as they did for the Beijing Olympics, because the Expo will last six months instead of two weeks.

The American pavilion had, until July, failed to secure enough funding to break ground.

For World Expo information and tickets, visit One-day admission costs about $24.

-- David Pierson

2 Maldives

This Indian Ocean archipelago, whose high-end resorts help draw 700,000 tourists a year, is proposing a visitor tax to fight climate change. The so-called green tax, introduced in Parliament, would be $3 per resort guest per day, said President Mohamed Nasheed, who is leading an ambitious effort to convert the islands to renewable energy and offset emissions from airliners that fly in visitors.

-- reuters

3 Iraq

Torn by decades of war, economic sanctions and looting, Iraq appealed to other nations to help save its archaeological treasures, which include Babylonian and Assyrian artifacts and medieval Islamic monuments. At a multinational meeting in Baghdad, Iraqi officials said they hoped that improvements in security would attract Western tourists to ancient sites such as Babylon.

-- reuters

4 Easter Island

Flights resumed to this remote Chilean island in the Pacific, known for its giant statues of human forms, after Chile agreed to hold talks with residents who had stormed the airport to protest an influx of tourists and immigrants that the protesters said was harming the environment and the statues.

-- times wires

5 Antigua

Six tourists from New York City were charged with assault and malicious damage after refusing to pay a cab fare that they thought was excessive and later scuffling with police on this Caribbean resort island. The tourists' attorney disputed the charges and said the six would plead not guilty.

-- times wires

Caution spots

The U.S. State Department recently issued warnings or alerts for the these areas:

* India, because of the continued possibility of terrorist attacks during that country's current holiday season.

* Tanzania, because of the possibility of election-related violence as the Zanzibar region begins to register voters for elections expected in October 2010.

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