The countdown to Expo 2015 has started, and the international community has its eyes on Milan. It seems like the entire city is preparing to take advantage of this great economic opportunity and keep up with the unfolding events. Expo puts Milan under a lot of pressure. The city must have systems in place to withstand the international gathering, including adequate transportation options, shopping, and visitor accommodations.
In order to sustain a high flow of people and traffic, the municipality is trying to improve its infrastructure and transportation system by providing several options for moving around the city. Car and bike-sharing, metro, and the tram are all designed to make sure that those coming to Milan will have a variety of transportation options.
In order to be prepared, local business owners, especially in the city center, are trying to predict the flow of tourists to the area. As a result, if you come to Milan for Expo you'll be able to shop in some stores until 10 pm, rather than the usual 9 pm.
Even though Milan is already a multi-cultural city with events throughout the year, Expo brings both the opportunity and the pressure to ensure that nothing is boring. In particular, Expo favors projects that market Milan and Italy's strong cultural sense.
But transportation and cultural events mean nothing if visitors cannot find a place to stay during Expo. As Milan is quite an expensive city, finding accommodation may be a struggle for those who intend to visit Expo between May and October 2015.
On the other hand, it's hard to have a complete understanding on how the event will actually impact the city. There are official figures that predict that it will be a boom, but not everyone agrees.
The truth is that unpredictable things can happen during Expo. History shows that the international world fair had different impacts in different cities. Studies predict that the city will have a 3 percent economic increase before Expo, plus 14 percent after. This is a very low rate of change when compared to that experienced by previous host cities.
One question everybody is asking is: how is the real-estate market affected by all of this? Despite the Italian property market remaining weak, the number of transactions in Milan has been rising in recent quarters. The problem is that price growth is not spread across the entire city. Instead, it is concentrated in the central area. In other words, you can bet on increased prices in central areas and those next to the newly-developed metro stops.
But during Expo 2015, it is the rental business that is most concerning. It is a fact that the accommodation business is slowly changing. This is due to visitors' shift from booking hotels to renting private apartments. Milanese residents can surely benefit from this change during Expo, as it is more profitable to rent for just a week or a few nights than it is to rent long-term.
There are contradictory rumors about the actual availability of rental spaces, but the race to rent is spreading across Northern Italy and beyond. One thing is for sure: Milan is the place to be in 2015!
What are your thoughts on Expo 2015 being hosted in Milan? Will you be attending Expo 2015? Share your Expo stories and thoughts in the comments area below.
Credits: Images by Alexandra Serbana. Data linked to sources.