Expo lures 1m foreign visitors, and counting

22:31, July 01, 2010      

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A Count of tour groups shows that at least 1.07 million foreigners had visited the World Expo since it opened on May 1, the head of the Expo bureau said Wednesday.

The actual number of foreigners touring the world's fair in Shanghai would be far bigger if individuals, whose nationalities are not recorded at the gate, were factored in, Hong Hao, director general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, told a press conference.

To help the rising tide of tourists from abroad, Expo officials have recruited another 2,000 volunteers who can speak a foreign language besides English, Hong said.

On any given day, about 280 such volunteers are currently working at the Expo site. They are posted at every service station across the site and near or inside foreign pavilions. Another 158 serve VIPs.

Most of the volunteers were picked from universities in Shanghai, taking students who specialize in foreign languages and speak them fluently, said Liu Yong, an official in charge of the language service volunteers of the bureau.

Among the group, they can speak 10 foreign languages including English, German, French, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Korean.

Before the Expo began, the bureau estimated that 3.5 million visitors would come from abroad, 5 percent of the 70 million expected in all.

Hong confirmed that the Expo would not be prolonged past the closing date of October 31, despite the urging of many visitors.

The International Exposition Bureau has stipulated that all specialized Expo like the Shanghai Expo must run for six months, he said.

However, the China Pavilion along with most of its exhibitions will remain until the end of the year.

Hong also pledged to crack down on the selling of fake entrance tickets and tickets to the China Pavilion that he said had been found spreading within the site.

Shanghai authorities for public security, industry, commerce and urban management are working together to try to trace the source of the counterfeits.

One fake ticket was detected by a ticket machine late last month when the bearer tried to enter the site. The Expo organizers said the ticket had been printed without the embedded electronic chip.

The Expo bureau has also stopped selling Expo entrance tickets to companies and institutions to ensure there are enough for individual buyers. Hong said they received complaints from individual visitors that they could not buy standard tickets allowing entry on any single day.

Hong admitted the standard tickets had been out of stock at some selling locations but said the bureau will rearrange the ticket stocks among all the 2,000 selling points in China to ensure people can buy the tickets at every point.

About 100,000 tickets in the Expo gift packs for June distributed by the Shanghai government and expiring today went unused. Hong said the number was normal because, at every Expo, 3 percent to 8 percent of ticket holders fail to show up.

Source: Shanghai Daily


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