Yu Yuan to double in size

Yu Yuan to double in size

Shanghai’s landmark tourist destination admits it’s just too crowded, and announces plans to double in size within the next decade

Shanghai yu yuan -- inlineSoon there will be twice the space for Shanghai visitors to wander inside Yu Yuan.Of all the places in Shanghai that represent the true and utter chaos that 23 million people living together create, it's Yu Yuan, or Yu Garden. But that might all change as reports surface that they’re finally doing something about the overcrowding.

According to jfdaily.com, Yuyuan will expand from its present 250,000 sq. meters to 500,000 sq. meters in five to eight years. Future details about what will take up the extra space -- other than people -- will be released by the end of this year.

The plan was announced during the 2011 Forbes International Seminar on the development of ancient urban compounds in China on March 30. Yes, there are enough of them to warrant a conference.

Organized by Forbes China and Yu Yuan Trading Mall, the meeting looked at 16 ancient sites throughout China, including the Confucius Temple in Nanjing and the “wide and narrow alleys” in Chengdu, with the goal of finding ways to improve the development of those areas on a cultural as well as commercial level. The seminar also explored how to revive the "ancient flavors" of Chinese cities.

Those shabby, small shops are not suitable for Yu Yuan’s future development.— Yu Qiuyu, Shanghai culture expert

Yu Yuan, in the center of the old city, is one of Shanghai’s main cultural attractions -- but it has a reputation for being one of the most overcrowded tourist areas. At peak times, overcrowded might a gross understatement.

According to Jie Fang Daily and the Shanghai tourism ministry, Yu Yuan's historic buildings attract 37 million visitors per year.

Home to some of the city's oldest establishments including Tong Han Chun TCM store, Ya Yi Gold shop and Yu Yuan Trading Mall as well as tiny Shanghai souvenir shops, Yu Yuan also plays host to popular foreign brands like KFC, Papa John’s and Marks & Spencer.

Wu Ping, the chairman of Shanghai Yu Yuan Tourism and Trading Mall Ltd, said they will focus on establishing a night market in the future Yu Yuan as well as a gold and jewelry shopping center, named Shanghai International Gold and Jewelry Trading Zone. A Gold Museum is also being planned, which will be based in a revamped traditional home.

Yu Qiuyu, a well-known Shanghai culture expert, also gave his opinion at the seminar.

Echoing Wu’s blueprint, he suggested Yu Yuan should raise its standard for stores in the area and abolish low-end shops.

“Those shabby, small shops are not suitable for Yu Yuan’s future development,” commented Yu.

According to Wu, the ultimate goal of this expansion is to make Yu Yuan a “world-class area and landmark combining tourism, commercial and cultural presentation.”