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Saudi Arabia tours cost 1,000 yuan

2010. 27 July

by Ni Dandan

( With the right connections on the inside, scalpers hawking VIP entry tickets to the ever-popular Saudi Arabia Pavilion for 1,000 yuan ($147) a piece have been getting away with the business that is strictly forbidden at World Expos.

A man surnamed Chen, who was among a group of scalpers offering the passes inside the Expo Park for a fee Monday, said that he and his crew had "people on the inside" that are able to guarantee visitors immediate entry into the pavilion featuring a 13 minute-long 3D IMAX show.

Despite that only Expo organizers are permitted to profit from the sale of admission tickets, according to rules set out by the International Exhibition Bureau, the body which governs World Expos, Chen said that his group has made a tidy sum from visitors unwilling to endure lengthy queues - with wait-times at the Saudi Arabia Pavilion recently exceeding six hours.

Chen and company may just be able to earn a small fortune by the time the six-month event is over, given that the pavilion has already welcomed 1.6 million visitors through its doors and visitor interest in the structure continues to be strong.

According to a senior official with the public affairs department of the Shanghai World Expo Coordination Bureau, organizers are unable to do anything about the situation.

"We don't have the authority to meddle in the internal affairs of pavilions," said the man, who spoke Monday with the Global Times on the condition of anonymity.

"The scalpers are breaking the rules, but as far as we know this is only happening at the Saudi Arabia Pavilion, and not at others," he added. "Therefore, this is an internal problem, and we have to let them handle the situation."

But Nathalie Parra, director of public affairs at the Saudi Arabia Pavilion, told the Global Times Monday that she was unaware of the situation.

"We will look into the matter," she said, adding that a standard procedure requiring the registration and approval of all VIP visitors is supposed to be followed by staff members.

Meanwhile, a visitor at the park Monday said that she understood why others would take scalper Chen up on his offer as the structure can only accommodate some 20,000 daily visitors.

"When the scalpers came by murmuring in our ear that we could get in right away if we wanted to pay for VIP entry, my bosses jumped on it," a visitor from Lanzhou in northwestern China told the Global Times Monday. "They paid the money and went in just like that."

Behind dark shades, scalper Chen added that visitors can rest assured their money will be well spent as he and his accom-plices have snuck hundreds of visitors into the pavilion since the park opened.