In 2016, the Turkish city of Antalya will welcome millions of visitors to its horticultural Expo dedicated to the theme "Flowers and Children". Through its gardens and interactive activities, Expo Antalya 2016 will focus on one major objective: educating future generations on the importance of nature preservation and sustainable development. Haşmet Suiçmez, Secretary General of the Expo, shares his views on the project.
Expo Antalya 2016 opens in less than one year and the construction, landscaping and planting on the Expo site are well underway. Could you tell us about what you have already achieved and what the next steps are?
The infrastructure works at the Expo site have been completed, and superstructure works are ongoing at full pace. Construction activities in 84 parts of the site are being carried out. The tender process for superstructure construction has been completed and the sites have been delivered to the construction companies. By the end of this year, the superstructure construction works will be finished. However, due to its specific structure, the EXPO Tower will be completed by early February 2016.
Landscape and gardening works at the Expo site are also being carried out at full pace. Trees and shrubs have been planted. Works related to thematic areas are also being carried out. Natural plants are being provided for the theme course which will exhibit the biodiversity in Turkey. When the necessary preparations have finished, these natural plants will be taken from the storage and will be planted.
Vegetal sculptures will be located in front of the country gardens. For their composition, we are working in cooperation with the Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal.
The Expo theme is « Flowers and Children ». Could you tell us about the different issues that the organisers of Expo Antalya 2016 and participants will address under this theme?
In harmony with the theme, attraction points such as the Children's Island, the Science and Technology Center for Children, "sustainability labyrinth" and rural area activities are being constructed.
Various activities will be organized for children from different age groups. Edutaining activities for children will be arranged. For the organization of such activities, a Cultural Activities Directorate has been established within the EXPO 2016 Antalya Agency.
At the EXPO 2016 Antalya Agency, we expect Participants to design gardens that are in harmony with the theme. The Expo sub-themes are history, biodiversity, green city and sustainability and we hope that they will inspire the Participants.
How is the Expo project promoted among the international community?
We are working hard to promote EXPO 2016 Antalya on the international stage. Promotion activities are ongoing at the Turkish Pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015. Our studies within the scope of the UNEP World Environment Day theme have been presented to the UN. In addition, our studies concerning UN International Bio-diversity Day have been presented during the Biodiversity Congress. We have been developing environment related projects in cooperation with NGOs.
Moreover, a solar energy bike race project has been launched by EXPO 2016 Antalya Agency in association with the SunTrip organization supported by the BIE. Under the "from an EXPO to another" motto, the bike racers started their trip from the Turkish Pavilion at the EXPO 2015 Milano and they will finish at the EXPO 2016 Antalya site in two months' time.
In addition, we have developed new strategies for social media. According to our new schedule prepared in line with these strategies, we have been sharing images, articles and videos for our followers and target groups. Banner displays, Facebook page post link ads, Google rotation banners and Google network ads in 39 countries will start very soon.
What impact do you hope Expo 2016 will have on Antalya and Turkey?
The legacy of EXPO 2016 Antalya will hopefully be an opportunity to seek common solutions for common problems, such as climate change and environmental problems that threaten the Earth. We believe that the recognition of Antalya on international stage will increase by virtue of the cooperation developed throughout EXPO 2016 Antalya. This in return will help tourism which is already a vibrant sector in Antalya. We also believe that already existing eco-tourism will take on a new meaning fostering the development of tourism. The aim is also to focus on alternative energy resources and last but not least to raise the awareness of children towards environmental issues.