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Dream tickets for dream Expo on sale

CONSTRUCTION Trade Union Chief Tang Wenzhou is among the first group of buyers of the first tickets for World Expo 2010 Shanghai.

The chairman of the Trade Union at the Shanghai Urban Construction Group bought 6,000 tickets, worth 780,000 yuan (US$114,160), though he did get a discount.

He bought the tickets not for his company staff, nor for his clients, but for the construction workers who have been toiling day and night on the Expo site. They were thrilled to learn about free admission.

"The workers may not fully understand the Expo theme ?? 'Better City, Better Life' ?? but it's my duty to let them take a free look at the fairyland they have built with their own hands," says Tan.

The first tickets went on sale last Friday, marking the 400-day countdown to the event. The basic price is 130 yuan per ticket; during the Expo period, admission will be 160 yuan.

The first batch of 18,000 tickets were sold to eight domestic governments, institutes and corporations.

Tang's company is a major infrastructure constructor, building all the tunnels, underground spaces and pipelines. Every day, more than 12,000 workers are sweating on the project.

Migrant workers will be among those getting free tickets; construction workers' families will also get tickets, "since they provided great support to the workers," says Tang. "In fact, the workers were the very first visitors to the Expo."

Tang says the company will buy more Expo tickets for 30,000 workers across the city.

Another big buyer was China Eastern Airlines, one of the 12 Expo global partners. It bought 10,000 tickets for passengers on worldwide special Expo flights, says Shan Chuanbo, director of sales and marketing for the airline.

China Eastern plans to buy more than 1 million, he says.

The Shanghai Overseas Chinese Affairs Office bought another batch of tickets. Cui Minghua, director of the office, says the tickets will be distributed to overseas Chinese associations around the world. He declined to say how many had been purchased.

"The Shanghai Expo is the pride of all Chinese people," says Cui, "and they have attached great importance to it since Shanghai's successful bid in 2002."

The office will also take the Expo as an opportunity to invite more overseas Chinese to come back to China, Cui says.

"Overseas Chinese will be enthusiastic about the event and many will come to Shanghai," says Lisa Wang, executive director of Chinese Association of the Detroit (US state of Michigan) Shanghai Office.

Most of the Chinese in Detroit, especially young people, went to the Beijing Olympics, she says. Even more Chinese will come to the Shanghai Expo because the fair is full of business opportunities, she adds. Many overseas Chinese and Chinese companies abroad have taken part in some projects for Expo participants.

Zhao Jianchu bought 10,000 Expo tickets for elementary and secondary school students in Taicang City, Jiangsu Province. He is director of the Development and Reform Commission of Taicang and one of the two government officials to buy ticket early on.

Shanghai Expo is a "required course" for the city's students, and their tickets will be free, says Zhao.

"The Expo will expand students' horizon and have a big impact on their future," he says.

There's a big Expo buzz in Taicang, which was the first stop of the Expo promotion last year.

Around 62 million Expo tickets will be available to the public. Regular tickets will cost 160 yuan during the six-month event starting on May 1, 2010, while those for national holidays and other peak periods will be 200 yuan.

Local residents can buy Expo tickets from July this year. The total sales of the tickets are expected to reach 6 billion yuan.

For more information, please call 86-21-962010


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