Feature| Exhibition World 20| May 2010| seemingly lacked the funds to fully realise its 2020 development project. " We have a programme to develop the complex that calls for the total amount of indoor exhibition space to be increased to 60,000 square metres by 2020," says Lenexpo general director Sergei Alexeev. " A new congress centre will be built, as well as a hotel and a business centre. Lenexpo will be transformed into a World Trade Centre." He believes the reconstruction of Lenexpo is necessary not just to improve logistics and the quality of the exhibition services, but in order to take advantage of its location on the sea. He also suggested that the plans for modernising Lenexpo's structure must now take into account the construction plans for the 100,000sqm of new space and convention centre with a main auditorium seating 3,000 at ExpoForum. THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW. EXHIBITION- WORLD. NET ExpoForum in brief: . Located 10 minutes from Pulkovo airport ( To be reconstructed by 2013), . 100,000sqm of indoor exhibition space in six pavilions ( the first stage provides for 40,000sqm across three pavilions). . 20,000sqm of outdoor events space . Main auditorium for 3,000 delegates . Auditorium for gala events will hold 2,000. . 450 three- and four- star hotel rooms . Parking for 10,000 Anatoly Erkulov ExpoForum general director Anatoly Erkulov spoke to EW about his plans for the venue. EW: Why is ExpoForum launching this major convention centre project? AE: We look upon the construction of the convention and exhibition centre as a successful investment project. The city authorities are interested in developing congress and events business in the city, not least because of its impact on economic development in general. The most successful projects are usually realised when both the authorities and the business community are involved. Our project is one such example. EW: Are the existing Lenexpo facilities insuffi-cient for the city? s future? AE: The Lenexpo project was built 40 years ago and many of its parameters no longer conform to international standards. We believe that a modern exhibition and convention space will initially serve as a magnet, bringing into the city major international enterprises, and that the tourism, economic, political and cultural potential of St Petersburg will allow it to develop into one of Europe's MICE capitals. EW: How much will the project cost and who stands behind the investment? AE: The cost is so far only an estimate, but could be around US$ 1bn. There is a financing agreement with Gazenergoprombank, but a firm timeline is still to be determined. So far, work is proceeding with ExpoForum? s own funding. EW: What are the targets for future business? AE: We are attempting to build the most modern exhibition and convention centre in Russia. When our plans are realised, in parallel to the development of the city's infrastructure and the growth of Russia's international influence, then the project will definitely find demand and commercial success. The new centre will be one of the symbols of the new St Petersburg. EW: What kind of events would be expected to take place at the new venue? AE: St Petersburg is the most European city in Russia, with rich architecture, culture, history and, therefore, in our view, it is very attractive for holding major events. It is no secret that taking part in a convention often means visiting a new destination and getting new impressions. St Petersburg can fully rival the biggest European cities in this sense. The new complex will be able to accommodate up to 10 major events simultaneously. We also intend to put on leisure events and activities during non- core times for major events. EW: What is the project? s likely impact on the St Petersburg economy? AE: For each euro of revenue received by such a centre, it is calculated that up to seven euros go into the city's tourism economy, strengthening international contacts in other sectors. This means our project is strategically important for the city.