Expo 2010 expected to be in black: organizers

By Qian Yanfeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-03-04 08:01
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BEIJING - The organizers of Expo 2010 Shanghai China are confident the multi-billion-yuan attraction will turn a profit, even though the final numbers have not yet been audited and announced.

"According to our preliminary data, we're sure that we've made both ends meet and it is very likely that we have made a profit," said Hong Hao, director-general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.

Hong said during an exclusive interview with China Daily on Thursday that confirmation of the numbers rests with the National Audit Office and the bottom line may not be made public until May.

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The 184-day showcase of culture and technology was the first of its kind to be held in a developing country and benefited from a total investment of 28.6 billion yuan ($4.4 billion). The injection of money included 18 billion yuan spent on the construction of the Expo site and around 10.6 billion yuan for operating and maintenance costs.

Despite the fact that the actual operating expenses ended up "a bit higher than planned", booming sales from Expo-franchised products and tickets eclipsed expectations and have likely not only offset those higher costs but made a profit, Hong said.

Sales from Expo-franchised commodities alone reached 30 billion yuan, said Hong, who is also a deputy to the 11th National People's Congress, which will convene on Saturday.

But he said it is not yet clear how much of that income will count toward profits and how much will be needed for manufacturing costs and commissions for franchisers.

Meanwhile, with more than 73 million visitors attending the event for which a standard ticket was 160 yuan, the revenue from ticket sales alone is set to be several billion yuan.

Sponsorship fees from enterprises, another source of Expo income, hit 7 billion yuan, according to earlier media reports.

The Shanghai extravaganza set a number of world records, including the highest number of both visitors and exhibitors. A record of 189 countries and 57 international organizations took part.

People have been speculating about whether Expo will break another record and pull in the biggest profit to date while many previous fairs have made a loss.

But Hong said making a profit was not on the minds of organizers whose priority had been to ensure a safe and successful Expo.

He added that the authorities have already reached a consensus on what should be done with the various sections of the Expo site, with most of it being earmarked for projects deemed to be for the public good.

The five foreign pavilions that will remain on the site as Shanghai landmarks will continue to host exhibitions and be open to the public, as will the China Pavilion. It is attracting more than 20,000 visitors each weekday and 50,000 on holidays four months after the event ended.

The Urban Best Practice Area on the Puxi side of the Expo site will also be retained and converted into a creative and cultural park, he said.

He said plans call for only a 1-square-kilometer area out of the 5.28-sq-km Expo site to be used as a new business district.

China Daily