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May 11, 2010

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Passport prices prompt action

THE World Expo organizer is working with the city's market watchdog to work out how to penalize people selling souvenir passports at inflated prices.

Officials admitted yesterday that they underestimated the demand for the popular Expo passports as only about 5 percent of visitors purchased them at previous expos.

"We have increased production of the passports and it has reached 80,000 copies per day," said Lin Shengyong, an official with the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.

With supply not enough to meet demand during the opening week of the Expo, some people were buying extra copies of the 30 yuan (US$4.40) passports and selling them at inflated prices. Others figured out that the passports may become valuable collectibles and started collecting stamps from all the 40-plus national pavilions and charging up to 750 yuan.

Zhang Xinsheng, an official with the Shanghai Commercial Committee, said they need time to increase supply as more visitors are expected to visit the Expo during the summer months.

"We hope no one sells the stamped passports at the Expo site," said Zhang, adding that several government departments are discussing certain measures to tackle the problem.

Officials said if one souvenir store doesn't have any passports, try others; eventually you'll find one with some in stock. Larger souvenir stores are more likely, especially those near Expo entrances, to have them in stock.

Also, ask shop assistants whether the passport is available as sometimes they are not displayed in the store.


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