Busan: Inside the South Korean city's bid to host the 2030 World Expo

  • 11/08/2023
  • Sponsored by - Samsung

South Korea's southernmost city is in a bidding war to host the 2030 World Expo, a global celebration of trade and tourism - and New Zealand has a special link to it.

Busan may be half a world away from Rotorua or Queenstown but it's a city in which one iconic Kiwi business now calls home.

Skyline Luges entered the South Korean market in 2019 and it's proving a hit.

"There's actually 19 luge sites in South Korea, would you believe, but only two belong to Skyline. The rest we're calling copycats and they're popping up like mushrooms," said James Thomas of Skyline Luge.

They could soon be hosting thrill-seekers from around the world.

Busan is in a three-horse race with Italy's Rome and Saudi Arabia's Riyadh to host the 2030 World Expo.

It's tipped to generate US$50 billion for the local economy and create 500,000 jobs in the process - so the stakes are high.

"There's a hell of a lot of money being thrown towards it," said Thomas. "It's huge, everywhere you go it's on the side of buildings, buses, taxis."

Organisers are optimistic.

"It's proceeding as planned, we are confident we will be able to fulfil our plan for the World Expo," said Hwang Hyun-ki, Overseas Expo Outreach Division Director.

"I personally believe that there is a 100 percent chance we will win the bid."

World Expos or Fairs are historically known for their flare and innovation. They've seen the unveiling of The Eiffel Tower - so too the phone and television.

A floating city, to combat rising sea levels, could be Busan's moment, as work is underway to unveil the idea in seven years time.

If Busan's bid for the 2030 World Expo is successful, the entire waterfront could transform. The event will also have significance to New Zealand, with Busan being a sister city to Auckland.

The host city will be announced in November.