Wando putting final touches on international seaweed expo

[South Korea] The South Korean island of Wando is putting the finishing touches on an international seaweed-themed expo in the runup to its opening in April, organizers said Thursday.

The Wando Seaweeds Expo 2017 will open on the island off the country’s southwest coast on April 14 for a 24-day run under the theme of “discovery of the future life, seaweeds.” The county hosted the inaugural fair in 2014.

The expo is expected to serve not only as a venue for exhibiting and viewing seaweeds but also an opportunity to shed new light on turning them into an alternative for mankind’s future food.

The first of its kind in the world, the upcoming expo will bring together about 1,000 buyers from 150 countries, including the United States, China, Japan, Canada and Australia, according to the organizers.

Shin Woo-chul, head of Wando County and the organizing committee, stressed that the expo will explore the possibility of developing seaweeds into a major industry with great growth potential.

“Seaweeds, which used to be known only as food, have limitless potential as they are now being used as raw materials for bioenergy, paper, medicines, cosmetics and other products,” he said.

The expo will have six event halls — the Main Theme Hall, the Health Food Hall, the Industrial Resources Hall, the Ecology Environment Hall, the Aquatic Culture Hall and the Experience of Seaweeds Hall.

The expo’s main exhibition hall, located at a seaside park, will host participating companies showcasing new technologies, products, materials and services related to the seaweed industry. Three exhibition halls stand on large barges, the first of their kind in South Korea, according to organizers.

A water screen will be installed to give visitors a glimpse into the history of seaweeds and various seaweeds such as kelp, sea mustard and laver. A virtual reality system will enable visitors to experience the undersea forest of seaweeds.

Various workshops and forums will also be held during the expo to discuss new technologies and the results of the latest research on seaweed farming and the management of the coastal ecosystem. A host of “experience” and other events are also in store for visitors.

The number of visitors is expected to reach 600,000, including 30,000 foreigners, as 500,000 advance tickets have already been sold, organizers said, adding the 10 billion-won (US$8.9 million) expo will likely generate 49.7 billion won in estimated revenue.


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