Shanghai is preparing to spend up to US$2.5 billion (HK$19.5 billion) to boost its bid to hold the World Expo in 2010. City officials already announced last week that the Government is planning a 100 billion yuan (HK$94 billion) facelift of the Huangpu River over the next five to 10 years. Officials were vague about precisely where all the $2.5 billion would go, saying it would be spent as part of a master plan aimed at luring more visitors and boosting the city's international image. 'The World Exposition will stimulate the city's economic development in dozens of sectors, including transportation, commercial facilities and revamping old buildings,' acting mayor Chen Liangyu said. 'Shanghai has the confidence and the means to hold the World Expo.' Mr Chen, who is expected to be confirmed as the head of the city administration this month, estimated that each US$1 invested would lead to US$5-10 in fresh investment in the city. Analysts said Shanghai's bid was part of the city's efforts to find new engines of growth to boost the local economy. Shanghai is one of six cities vying for the right to hold the international fair. Its main rival is Moscow, but other contenders are Buenos Aires, Poland's Wroclaw, Queretaro in Mexico, and South Korea's Yosu. A decision will be made in Paris in December, and Shanghai is gearing up for a visit by an inspection team from the International Bureau of Expositions next month. Shanghai officials watched with envy as Beijing made a successful bid last year to hold the 2008 Olympics. City officials are eager to make Shanghai a more significant tourist destination and recast its image as largely a commercial centre. Shanghai attracted two million foreign visitors last year - the first time it topped that mark. City officials said they wanted to dramatically increase that total in the years ahead. Holding the exposition would also be a handy bargaining tool for local officials when they try to line up political and financial support for their plans to expand and upgrade the city's infrastructure. The city already has ambitious plans to add to its roads, bridges and tunnels, as well as extend its subway system. It is spending heavily on reducing air and water pollution and has been adding new parks and green belts. Shanghai played host to the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum last year, a gathering that was attended by US President George W. Bush and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. That put the city in the international spotlight and officials would like to build on that foundation. As part of the 100-billion yuan project announced last week, the city will create a 540-hectare site on both banks of the Huangpu River, which cuts through the city. It will demolish crumbling factories, warehouses and homes to make way for exhibition halls, restaurants and green areas. The World Expo, first hosted in 1851, is now held every five years. It was last held in 2000 in Hanover, Germany.