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August 1, 2010

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At halfway point, Expo still intends to improve

MAKING sure every visitor has a "good experience" has been the Expo bureau's real aim - not reaching a record-setting 70 million visitors, which was just an expectation, the top Expo organizer said yesterday as the Expo reached the halfway mark in its 184-day run.

Nearly 35 million visitors from both home and abroad, half the total projected attendance, have visited the Expo.

Hong Hao, director general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, denied rounding up any school students or employees of state-owned companies to reach the 70-million number, in order to break the record of the Expo Osaka in Japan in 1970 that attracted 64 million visitors.

Some online rumors claimed some domestic schools ordered students to visit the Expo while some state-owned companies threatened to deduct wages unless its employees visited the Expo site.

All visitors, including students, came to the Expo site voluntarily, Hong told a press conference.

Hong said the Expo bureau intends to improve services for visitors every day until midnight of October 31 when the closing ceremony concludes, he said.

Hong said he felt satisfied with the first half of the Expo period: its smooth operation, growth in visitor numbers and increasingly good feedback from visitors.

New ticketing

To crack down on a snowballing number of fake tickets to the China Pavilion, the bureau plans early last month to change the ticket to be like a credit card and incorporate anti-counterfeiting chips, Hong said.

A total of 30,000 of these tickets, same as the current amount, will be issued at every entrance to the Expo site every day.

The current paper tickets are collected by staffers as visitors enter the pavilion. The color of the tickets changes every day to thwart forgers, but Hong said the counterfeiters have been able to make a perfect copy within five hours after they knew the color of the day.

He urged visitors not to buy the new tickets from scalpers. While they might look genuine, they won't be recognized by machines being set up in front of the pavilion.

More than 30 other pavilions - including the pavilions of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, as well as the Spain and SAIC-GM pavilions - have issued reservation tickets to visitors.

Hong said any pavilion may decide whether and how to issue reservation tickets and the bureau will assist them.

The Saudi Arabia Pavilion plans to follow the China Pavilion's example and hand out reservation tickets at Expo entrances to cut down waiting time to 90 minutes from the current five hours and more.

The bureau will also require the pavilions to leave some tickets at night for people who buy night tickets to enter the Expo, Hong added.

The bureau has inspected the pavilions and facilities to ensure safety during the coming typhoon season, Hong said.

The five main Expo structures - the Expo Boulevard, China Pavilion, Expo Culture Center, Expo Center and Theme Pavilions - can resist winds of more than 120 kilometers per hour, Hong said.

In 2006, Typhoon Matsa, the largest typhoon to hit the city in 10 years, packed winds up to 100 kilometers per hour.

About 90,000 Expo tickets in the gift packs for July distributed by the Shanghai government went unused and will expire today. Hong said the number was better than in June when 120,000 such tickets went unused.


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