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April 22, 2011

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Auto show crowds stop the traffic

Organizers are working out plans of how to cope with bumper crowds at the weekend after the New International Exhibition Center was packed yesterday on the first public open day of the 14th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition.

The Shanghai International Exhibition Co said it expected crowds of up to 160,000 tomorrow.

"The maximum visitor flows are expected on Saturday and we'll see what we can do about it," said spokesman Yao Yingliang.

Yesterday's total number of visitors was not known but the center quickly became a sea of faces after the doors opened at 9am with people struggling to get a glimpse of their favorite cars.

The problem was particularly acute where the luxury cars were on show, making it almost impossible to get a good look at the latest Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Many, however, seemed to be keener to get a glimpse of the other beautiful models on show - girls not cars - or eager to snap up the freebies on offer from manufacturers, bags with various small gifts bearing the makers' logos.

Outside the center it was also crowded with serious traffic congestion reported from up to a kilometer away from the venue.

Extra traffic police were sent to the area but there were still lines of cars hundreds of meters long waiting to get into the car park on Fangdian Road at about 9:45am.

When the doors opened there were thousands of people lining up outside. Some had been there from 5am.

"I didn't expect so many people," said a visitor surnamed Nie who had left home before 8am.

Besides local visitors, there were many automobile fans from other parts of the country.

"I was waiting here for my group before 8am," said the coordinator of an automobile club. "Some of our members are from Guangdong and Shandong provinces."

Ticket scalpers were busy selling tickets which had been issued free or marked not-for-sale at the regular price - 100 yuan (US$15).

"You will line up about an hour to get a ticket from the box office," one scalper said. "You can get mine immediately. It's not expensive at all, believe it or not people will pay 150 yuan for it at the weekend."

But the ticket line was not so long yesterday morning and visitors only had to wait about 15 minutes to buy a ticket and get into the center.


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