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Shanghai Expo Visitors Exceed Those on Opening Day


10:44 pm
May 2, 2010



posts 215

Shanghai’s $44 billion World Expo attracted more
visitors today than on its opening yesterday, as entries to tour the
exhibit during the weekend rose to more than 420,000 people.

More than 215,200 visitors had streamed into the
expo’s 5.3 square-kilometer (3.3 square-mile) park as of 7:30 p.m.
today, 7,500 more than yesterday’s 207,700 people, according to the
organizer’s website. Visitors endured queues as long as three hours for
some pavilions yesterday and temperatures as high as 82 degrees
Fahrenheit to see the expo’s more than 200 exhibits.

“This is like Disneyland except that the queues
are much longer,” said Chen Zihui, a 45-year-old beauty shop owner who
traveled from the southern city of Guangzhou with 30 family members who
all wore matching red t-shirts to the expo yesterday. “In two hours, we
only managed to get into one pavilion.”

China’s richest city estimates 70 million people
will visit the six-month long World Expo, more than 10-times the number
who traveled to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. To ensure smooth
operations for the fair, Shanghai has deployed armed police to patrol
the Expo park, restricted sales of knives and given local residents a
five-day holiday through May 4, during which they’ve been asked to say
at home as much as possible.

Temperatures Rise

Temperatures in Shanghai today reached 30 degrees
Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), according to the China Meteorological
Administration. Paramilitary police guided visitors through the expo’s
gates with bullhorns as a parade of floats decked in flowers and
costumed dancers made its way through the park.

Retired Shanghai resident Gen Changrong, 70, and
his 68- year old wife gave up on visiting the U.S. and Spanish pavilions
yesterday after seeing the long queues. They instead visited the
Africa, Serbia and Lithuania pavilions because there were no lines, said
Gen, who carried a bag filled with bread, apples and empty water

“We would have been totally exhausted if we tried
to join the queue,” he said. “It’s too much for seniors.”

Tickets yesterday to enter the red China pavilion
named “The Crown of the East” were gone before 9 a.m. local time.
Pavilion officials today handed out 50,000 of the free passes, China
News Service reported. Arguments broke out today between police and
visitors who failed to obtain the passes, Shanghai’s Dragon TV reported.

Cutting in Line

The broadcaster, a unit of government-owned
Shanghai Media Group, also called on visitors to obey rules set out by
expo organizers as it showed footage of people cutting in line, trash
littering the grounds and visitors circumventing a barrier to pick
flowers off a tree on display.

Chinese President Hu Jintao officially opened the
expo on April 30 at an evening ceremony marked by fireworks, a laser
show and performances by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and martial-arts
film star Jackie Chan. Visiting leaders including French President
Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
watched the display from the expo site along the shores of the Huangpu

Police escorted motorcades for visiting officials
across the city, forcing traffic to a halt along Shanghai’s Yanan
elevated highway and in the Lujiazui financial district. Hundreds of
tourists took pictures and bought food from street vendors in front of
the city’s 1,535-feet tall Oriental Pear Tower, which staged song and
dances shows on its plaza.

Shanghai Hotels

Shanghai’s hotel occupancy level was 72 percent
yesterday, a 12 percentage point increase from April 30, state
broadcaster China Central Television reported.

“The buildings are even more impressive than on
TV,” said 40-year old Li Ge as she waited in line yesterday to visit the
U.K. pavilion. She had taken a four-hour train ride from the city on
Hefei with her two sisters and nephew to visit the expo. “We’re very
excited, but there’re just too many people.”

Exhibits at the Shanghai expo include a giant
mechanical baby at the Spanish pavilion, ostrich meat wraps at the
Africa hall, Italian artisans making shoes by hand and beer served
outside the German pavilion.

World expos began with the 1851 World’s Fair in
London’s Crystal Palace that showcased the wealth and technological
prowess of Europe’s industrialized nations.

They’ve led to the construction of iconic
structures, including the Eiffel Tower and Seattle’s Space Needle. The
events are now divided into so-called Universal Expos, such as the one
in Shanghai, and smaller, more specialized exhibitions.

“I went to the expo in Hanover and this one here
is so much nicer,” said Rufus Brevett, 19, a student from the U.K. “It’s
massive.” Hanover, Germany hosted the 2000 expo.


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