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October 16, 2010

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Gearing up for late rush

PEOPLE grabbing the last chance to visit the World Expo should be prepared for big crowds, heavily booked transport links and limited accommodation.

Flights to Shanghai and hotel rooms across the city are almost fully booked as the exhibition extravaganza prepares to lower the curtain in about two weeks.

Expo organizers are expecting the daily attendance to stay above 400,000 visitors until the event ends.

"Previous Expos have shown us that big crowds always come in the last two weeks," said Zhang Qing, deputy director of the Expo's operation headquarters.

At previous Expos, visitors flocked to the site in the final days mainly because many pavilions offered discounts on their products. Similar offers are available in Shanghai.

By 9pm yesterday, a total of 627,800 people visited the Expo. This was the second time the daily limit set by the Expo bureau before the event opened in May had been reached. Crowds queued at pavilions, restaurant and toilets, while passengers squeezed into shuttle buses at the site.

Daily attendance to the site has averaged more than 400,000 for a week.

The Visitors' Service Center is fully prepared for the coming influx, Qian Bojin, the head officer of the center, said yesterday.

Some 56 service stations around the site have brought in electric kettles to supplement the hot water machines at each station, in a bid to reduce queuing, Qian said.

And benches have been installed at the waiting areas of most of the popular pavilions, he added.

The center has also reminded Expo staff to deal patiently with visitors' questions, especially those they might have already answered a thousand times since the Expo opening.

"The final period of the Expo is just like the final question during an examination which always accounts for the biggest percentage of marks," Qian said.

While air ticket prices for many routes fell after the National Day holiday, flights to Shanghai from cities such as Chengdu, Beijing and Hong Kong are still being sold at full price.

"As the Expo draws to a close, a large number of tourists are rushing to catch the event," said an official at "Ticket sales to Shanghai remain at a high level."

Accommodation is also tight in Shanghai. International hoteliers, including Shangri-la, Sheraton and Ritz-Carlton, said no rooms are available before next Friday. Leading budget hotel chain Jinjiang Inn said outlets near the Expo site are in short supply.


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