SHANGHAI - The crowds came surging back to the China Pavilion during the Spring Festival holidays as people made the most of the opportunity to check out the landmark that was such a draw during Expo 2010.
Nearly 300,000 tourists lined up for an average of four hours to visit the pavilion during the seven-day holiday. On the busiest day, some 48,000 visitors filed through the building.
"I didn't know that I would have to wait for so many hours to tour the China Pavilion but I waited in line for two hours to buy a ticket and another two hours to get inside," said 50-year-old Chen Guomei, who was visiting from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province.
She said so many people wanted to see the pavilion that many groups that included children and elderly people gave up and ducked out of the line.
The number of people wanting to check out the attraction was much larger than anyone expected but all staff were on duty and coped with the crowds, said managers.
"We made enough preparations for the increased flow of people during the Chinese New Year holidays, with extra staff and facilities laid on to make sure there was order among people waiting in line but we really didn't expect so many visitors to come," said QianZhiguang, deputy director of the China Pavilion.
More than 1,500 staff members, police and volunteers were assigned to the pavilion to ensure safety during the holiday.
"Because the China Pavilion is the only one still open on the Expo site, the time people must wait to get inside has increased from the two hours it was during Expo to five or six. Hopefully, that will be eased after the holidays," said Qian.
The China Pavilion was reopened in December after it had closed when Expo 2010 ended on Oct 31. The pavilion will remain open to the public each day from 9 am to 5 pm until the end of May.
"Our current focus is to ensure the security of the increased number of visitors and plan the future of the pavilion following the end of the current half-year exhibition," Qian said.
Part of that planning process will involve tourists being quizzed about what role they would like to see for the pavilion in the future.
"We're expecting to make a decision in March or April about what to do with the contents of the exhibition. They will either be totally changed or updated," said Qian.
In addition, the pavilions of France, Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Spain have been gifted to the city and are expected to eventually reopen to the public.
The World Expo Museum is also slated to be enlarged and renamed the Expo 2010 Museum.
"We have gathered thousands of exhibits from previous expos as well as from Expo 2010," said Chen Xiejun, director of the World Expo Museum.
Detailed plans for the Expo 2010 Museum are still being drawn up.
"We're keen to retain the innovative spirit of 2010 Expo in the museum by keeping traces of all the related technology and cultural and lifestyle ideas as a memento for future generations," said Chen.
(China Daily 02/10/2011 page3)