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Seventy mln visitors to World Expo shows event's appeal

2010. 24 October

Tourists visit the World Expo Park in Shanghai, east China, Oct. 24, 2010. The number of visitors to the Shanghai World Expo 2010 topped 70 million Sunday, reaching the expectation of the Expo Bureau before its opening on May 1, according to the official Expo website on Sunday. (Xinhua/Li Jian)

( The number of visitors to the Shanghai World Expo 2010 topped 70 million Sunday, meeting organizers' expectations, according to an announcement on the official Expo website.

Total visitor arrivals broke the 70 million mark as of 10:17 a.m. Sunday and by 1:30 p.m. some 572,900 visitors had entered the Expo Park on Sunday, the 177th day since the event started, bringing the total number of visitors to 70.28 million.

"The news is exciting and it's also encouraging for the organizers," said an official with the Bureau of the Shanghai World Expo Coordination.

During the eight years since China successfully won the bid to host the 2010 Expo, Vicente Loscertales, Secretary-General of the International Exposition Bureau (BIE), has been asked again and again what's the value of the World Expo when people can get so much information about countries and trade from the Internet.

The Shanghai Expo, the first such global event hosted by a developing country in the history of the World Expo, shows to the world that such an event is still relevant, as the huge number of visitors illustrate.

"You have achieved new records: a record number of participants, a record number of visitors, and you have built the largest site ever," said Loscertales on Oct. 1.

"I thought Canada was pretty amazing. Not to mention Italy and France, and you just have to go to Thailand!" "How far is it from Morocco to Monaco exactly?" ... this kind of conversation can be frequently heard at the Expo site.

People wait in long queues outside the different pavilions, sometimes for 12 hours, to taste a little bit of the world.

Mei Haixing, 59, a retired teacher in Shanghai, has so far visited the Expo 28 times.

He has written a 400-page diary including pictures, souvenirs and signatures from the different pavilion curators.

"The Expo is like a huge museum of the different cultures of the world," he said.

Sheng Banghe, sociologist with the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, said what the Chinese are pursuing is no longer at the material level, but the spiritual.

"They are not satisfied with their current knowledge and entertainment," said Sheng.

Many migrant workers have also visited the Expo.

Liu Huafeng, a construction worker in Shanghai from central China's Henan Province said he only found out how wonderful urban life could be after visiting the Expo.

Although there is still a long way to go to realize migrant workers like Liu's dream of having a better life in cities, the government has already started to think about the problems of urbanization and is trying to find solutions to them.

The Shanghai Expo has enjoyed participants from 246 countries and international organizations. It also set a record for the maximum attendance on a single day on Oct. 16 with 1.03 million people visiting it then.

Loscertales said the overwhelming success of Shanghai Expo 2010 will inspire future hosts of the event.

Already some countries have showed willingness to host the 2020 World Expo, including Thailand.

During the last week of the Expo from Oct. 25 to 31 daily visitor numbers will be limited to 400,000 to 500,000, said Huang Jianzhi, deputy director general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination on Oct. 16.

Organizers promised to continue to improve their service to visitors until the last day, and make it a "successful, splendid and unforgettable" Expo.