According to official forecasts, some four million people a year will visit the cultural and business haven by 2005, earning the city an estimated annual 3 to $3.2 billion and lifting gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as seven percent, AFP reported.

As many as 50,000 jobs will be created by the new initiative and a further 150 hotels will be completed over the next 2 years in the country’s most populous city, according to the state media.

“From this year the city of Shanghai's tourism has been on an international track, growing at a very fast pace -- becoming a single market for shopping and site-seeing and tourism," Dao Shuming, deputy director of the city's tourism bureau, told AFP.

Shanghai has also been trying hard to attract international events in order to raiuse both the city’s and the country’s profile in the eyes of a somewhat sceptical world.

From next year the city will host an annual Formula One Grand Prix race, as well as the World Expo in 2010.