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Huge crowds disappear

POTENTIAL Expo visitors previously deterred by the huge crowds now have a last-minute chance to attend - and with much improved circumstances.

The daily attendance for the past three days, in the final week of the Expo, has dropped drastically to between 200,000 to 300,000 people from previous figures that easily broke 500,000 on a daily basis.

The Saudi Arabia and Oil pavilions had the longest waiting times yesterday - but only three hours compared with more than 10 hours the previous week.

The special peak-day ticket policy and an absence of many employer-funded or independently arranged tour groups have contributed to the low traffic at the Expo this week.

Only the 200-yuan (US$30) peak-day ticket is valid for admittance to the Expo. Standard-ticket (160 yuan) holders must pay a further 40 yuan to exchange a peak-day ticket to enter the site in the final week.

The organizer introduced the policy since, based on previous Expos, they expected huge crowds would come to the Shanghai Expo because of discounts provided by pavilions who were ready to move out.

Big crowds came after 5pm when standard-ticket holders could exchange two night tickets to enter the site, another ticket policy introduced to balance visitor numbers between the daytime and at night. About 80,000 people entered the site with night tickets on these days.

The peak days also included the Chinese National Day holiday (October 1 to 7) that still saw some daily attendance figures exceeding 400,000 and the first three days of the Expo (May 1 to 3) when around 200,000 visitors entered the site every day.

The visitor numbers will not rise at the end of the Expo because it was announced yesterday that tickets for the last day of the Expo on Sunday had sold out.

On Sunday, a summit forum and the closing ceremony will be held with many VIPs attending, including the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who will deliver the opening speech at the forum.

During the past three days, some pavilions grasped the final chance to welcome their millionth visitors and hold grand finales.

The Expo Culture Center will celebrate the arrival of its 8 millionth visitor at its south entrance at around 10am today.

The Indonesia Pavilion in Zone B will hold a farewell party "Say Goodbye but not Forever" for volunteers of Zone A and B at 4pm today in the pavilion with performances from a famous Indonesian band.


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