China sets the record straight

Monday 01 Nov 2010

After breaking records for size, cost and attendance, the Shanghai World Expo closes its doors for the final time

After six months and an unprecedented 73million visitors, the Shanghai World Expo drew to a close at midnight on Sunday 31st October with a perfectly choreographed closing ceremony presided over by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

During its short lifespan the Expo broke multiple records, most notably for the number of visitors - smashing the previous record by 9million. The Shanghai World Expo 2010 also stole the title of most participating countries (246), largest site area (5.28 sq km) and most expensive Expo in history. On 16th October, the open-aired exhibition received the most visitors to enter an Expo park on a single day, with an extraordinary total of 1.03m individuals.

Numerous fingers have been shaken in China's direction after it was estimated that the government's budget of €4.2bn actually ended up nearer the €43bn mark, however recent figures suggest that the consistent flow of tourism has generated upward of 80bn Yuan (€8.6bn).

This monetary injection has been matched with a more tangible addition to Shanghai's economy; major additions to the city's  infrastructure including newly constructed or renovated metro lines and pedestrian pathways to cater the event provide a solid basis for the growth and development of formerly run-down waterfront area.

Hot on the heels of its architectural success during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has firmly cemented itself as a leader in the field of architectural design, happy to share its artistic success with an international audience. Focus will soon turn to the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games, which will kick off on 12th November. The Canton Tower by Information Based Architecture is set to play a key role in the festivities.

A victim of its own success in many ways, reports suggest that despite impeccable organisation and clear pedestrian queuing networks, many of the more popular pavilions amassed waiting periods of up to six hours. Coupled with the intense heat of central Shanghai, this meant that many visitors were only able to visit a handful of the breathtaking structures in a single day.

The 5.28 sq km exhibition was showered with praise during the closing ceremony from both domestic and international dignitaries. President of the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE) Jean-Pierre Lafon referred to the Shanghai World Expo as an ‘astounding success'. He continued: "Shanghai shows that with a talented organisation, a willing to succeed and an excellent international communication campaign, a World Expo always brings out a true fascination."

This sentiment was echoed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who explained: "Only when the ideas behind the accomplishments of civilizations are shared can they become treasures for all of humanity and be carried on forever."

Thus begins the immense task of dismantling all bar five of the 246 vast structures, the chosen few being the China Pavilion, Culture Center, Expo Center, Theme Pavilions and the dramatic Expo Boulevard (pictured left). The Cultural Center - an 18,000 seat multi-purpose stadium and entertainment complex - has now been renamed the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

Sian Disson
News Editor

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