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September 24, 2009

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700,000 to get a sneak peek at World Expo site

SOME 700,000 people from home and abroad will be invited to visit the site of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo ahead of the event's May 1 opening to make sure everything is working smoothly.

Journalists, employees of the Expo's 42 sponsor companies and some local residents will be called in for the test run, which will take place over several days in mid-April, Huang Jianzhi, deputy director of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, said at an annual meeting of Expo participants in Shanghai yesterday.

The organizer originally scheduled the test for January. It did not explain the reason for the timing change, but it did urge the event's more than 200 participants to finish construction of their pavilions by mid-December and final decoration before February.

The key issue is the successful completion of the pavilions and exhibition preparations, Vicente Loscertales, secretary-general of the Bureau of International Expositions, the governing body of World Expos, told the conference.

Forty-two countries have confirmed they will build stand-alone pavilions at the Shanghai event, but only half of them have completed their main steel structures. Four have yet to start construction.

Even so, Loscertales noted that everything is running "according to schedule."

BIE President Jean-Pierre Lafon said yesterday that because China hosted a successful Olympics, he has "no doubt" the Expo will also be run well.

More than 800 representatives from the 192 countries and 49 International organizations that have confirmed participation in the Expo attended the two-day meeting in Shanghai to be updated on preparations, the last such session before the Expo's opening.

Shanghai Vice Mayor Yang Xiong told the meeting that everything is proceeding smoothly.

More than 8 million tickets have been sold around world since July 1. A standard ticket costs 160 yuan (US$23.44).

The organizer will set up 54 visitor centers to provide services such as information, baggage checks, lost and found, lost children areas, complaint counters and aid for the physically challenged.

The organizer said it has decided to construct 40 buildings for restaurants, putting an eating spot within a five-minute walk from anywhere on the site. The restaurants plan to offer more than 300,000 Chinese and Western meals a day.

Each Expo participant will have a special day set aside for its own celebration during the 184-day event.

Economy hotel rooms for officials of participating countries and organizations will be priced from 200 yuan to 300 yuan a day, and luxury hotel rooms will go for 1,600 yuan to 2,000 yuan. The prices will be similar to those outside the Expo site, the Expo bureau's Huang said.

Sales of licensed Expo products, including dolls, clothing and jewelry, have reached 1.1 billion yuan, according to the organizer.


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