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1 month, 8 million visitors

MORE than 8 million people have visited the World Expo since it opened a month ago and daily attendance figures are still rising.

When the six-month event first began there were fears that the public might not turn up in the numbers expected.

The lowest attendance, 80,000 visitors, was recorded on May 5, a figure that caused concern for Expo authorities.

But after a number of improvements, including installing sun shelters and more drinking sites and lowering food prices, visitors began to pour in. Saturday saw the number of visitors exceed 500,000.

Encouraging visitors to tour the Urban Best Practices Area in the Puxi section balanced the visitor numbers between the two banks of the Huangpu River.

People were able to reserve tickets for the China Pavilion or the Saudi Arabia Pavilion after collecting 16 stamps from their UBPA tour.

And a bus route has been extended to the UBPA, offering easier access and exit.

"Long queues are unavoidable at Expos," organizers say but they are working to ensure that people can line up in comfort.

About 2,000 more sunshades have been installed at the waiting areas of a dozen or so of the most popular pavilions, including those of Saudi Arabia and Germany.

The site now has 40,000 more benches so visitors no longer need to sit on the ground to rest as they did during trials in April.

Fifty more drinking points have been installed and visitors can drink clean water at 161 drinking points across the site. There were no long queues at any of the drinking water areas even on the day with the record crowds.

To keep visitors up to date with performances and waiting times at popular pavilions, 57 more electronic screens have been erected, bringing the total to 214.

And visitors have been able to receive mobile phone messages from mid-May about the weather and ferry schedules.

The organizer has also brought down food prices at the site to an average of about 38 yuan (US$5.57) a meal from 45 yuan by reducing the commission from food companies.

But the Expo's star-attraction, the China Pavilion, still seems to be beyond the reach of most visitors. The around 30,000 tickets to the pavilion normally run out within five minutes of the Expo opening at 9am.


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