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October 1, 2011

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City's record-breaking Expo turns in a profit

SHANGHAI made an operating profit of more than 1 billion yuan (US$157 million) from the most expensive World Expo in the history of the world fair last year thanks to a record attendance, city auditors said yesterday.

The 73 million visitors to the 184-day event put the Shanghai Expo organizers 1.05 billion yuan in the black after total operational revenue topped 13.014 billion yuan by the end of March this year while costs for the event's daily operations stood at 11.964 billion yuan, the Shanghai Audit Bureau said.

Shanghai had budgeted 10.06 billion yuan for operational costs.

About 5.8 percent of the visitors, or some 4.25 million, were foreigners, according to the city's tourism authority.

The profits will be used mainly for the extended operation of the China Pavilion as well as other cultural venues such as the World Expo Museum, the audit bureau said.

Admission fees were the biggest contributor to the better-than-expected performance, racking up nearly 7.36 billion yuan, while sponsorship contributed almost 4 billion yuan, the bureau said.

Shanghai's World Expo, which ran from May 1 to October 30 last year, achieved several records in the history of the 160-year-old event.

There were 246 countries and organizations registered to take part, the largest number the event has seen and Shanghai boasted the largest Expo site at 5.28 square kilometers.

Shanghai's Expo also shattered the record for visitors set in 1970 when 64 million people visited Osaka in Japan. On October 16, 2010, there were more than 1.03 million visitors.

However, the audit bureau also reported, construction costs for a total of 47 Expo projects failed to stay within the budget of 18 billion yuan.

By the end of April last year, total investment for construction inside the Expo site on both sides of the Huangpu River grew to nearly 19.74 billion yuan. The bureau said the cost of building some national pavilions rose due to the use of green technologies.

The city government helped construction investment with 2.66 billion yuan of fiscal money while there was another 1.2 billion yuan from a government-backed cultural fund and 2.86 billion yuan from corporate and public donations.

The State Council also approved Shanghai to issue a total of 5.5 billion yuan in Expo bonds to fund the event while the rest was settled via bank loans, the bureau said.

The Expo also boosted Shanghai's tourism industry. The city welcomed a record 8.5 million overseas tourists last year, compared to nearly 6.29 million in 2009.

Retail sales also saw faster growth. The city's retail sales jumped 17.5 percent to nearly 604 billion yuan last year compared to 2009, the Shanghai Bureau of Statistics said.

In the history of the World Expo, at least one third of all the events failed to see their accounts move into the black. The 2000 Hannover Expo in Germany set a record deficit of more than US$ 1 billion.


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