Small countries miss out on early Expo hype

10:16, May 04, 2010      

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People waited up to six hours to get into the UK Pavilion during the opening day of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai Saturday. Other national pavilions, such as Spain's and Japan's, saw people standing in the sun for close to four hours.

It might have been the unique architecture of each building that lured people to their front doors. The UK Pavilion is a ball with 60,000 translucent rods jutting out, Spain's has thousands of stretched baskets lining its outer walls and Japan's is a gigantic purple blob.

More than likely it was the hype built around certain pavilions during the soft trials of the Expo, where those exhibitions that were prepared in time were open to visitors.

Yes, the China Pavilion is the centerpiece of the Expo and has received hundreds of thousands of visitors since the May 1 opening, but newspapers and television stations captured visuals of masses of people trying to get into the other pavilions. Helicopters flew daily runs over the site, providing aerial coverage that was broadcast on evening news programs and Internet feeds.

The pavilions that enjoyed the two-week testing during the soft opening were blessed with extreme curiosity from Expo attendees for the grand opening, and took advantage of all that free advertising.

In addition to the UK, Spain and Japan, there was the white, bowl-shaped Finland Pavilion, Singapore's music box pavilion with garden on top, and the Australia Pavilion with a seemingly rusted metal exterior. All of these made waves with attendees and had lines stretching around the block.

With about 242 countries, regions and international organizations participating in the Expo, the soft opening would have been a perfect time for some of the smaller countries to grab visitors. Sadly, many pavilions in the African, Middle Eastern and Asian sections of the Expo site were not open to attendees.

A country such as Kazakhstan might not have the money to invest in a large pavilion like France and the US, but if it had opened during the testing, it would have benefited from the press in attendance, drawn throngs of people that were clearly in awe of everything around them, and would have set the country up to benefit over the coming six months.

Instead, closed doors mean they now remain a relative mystery, and have to fight with countries like Saudi Arabia for face time. The Saudi Arabia Pavilion was opened for the majority of the test phase, and is now drawing considerable amounts of people.

Will countries such as Ukraine or Cambodia, whose pavilions are simple box shaped buildings, be photogenic? No, but the soft opening would have been a way to compensate for lack of artistic flare. The only problem was their doors were shut during that week. Now they're being passed over for the Expo "pavilion darlings," those who made the front pages of newspapers and caught the eyes of the first visitors.

Formerly closed pavilions might get some excess spillage of people who are unwilling to wait in line for a chance to ride a bicycle around the Denmark Pavilion, sample the Belgium beer at the EU/Belgium joint pavilion, or any of the other dozen fascinating spectacles to see inside the park.

But if a friend recommended six "must see" pavilions he or she saw during the soft openning, would you be more likely to take his or her advice, even if it means waiting, or try to get into a country that's received zero hype?

Source: Global Times


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