Shanghai Expo opening attendance below expectations

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The Independent Online

Attendance at Shanghai's World Expo fell far short of expectations during the opening weekend, despite long lines of visitors waiting to enter the massive site, official data showed Tuesday.

A total of 207,000 people went through the turnstiles at the huge culture and technology show on the first day Saturday, the official Expo website said, although officials said all 500,000 tickets had been sold or distributed.

Attendance was up slightly on Sunday at 215,000 and the number of people on the site on Monday - a national holiday in China - was at least 193,000, organisers said.

Organisers expect 70 million visitors - most of them Chinese - to attend the biggest-ever World's Fair over the next six months, with an average of 380,000 people expected to visit the site daily.

Although the majority of opening day tickets were unused, the 40,000 timed entry tickets for the China pavilion were gone within five minutes of the park opening, and the wait to enter US and French pavilions stretched to four hours.

After the China pavilion, the most popular venues on the opening weekend were the Swiss, French, German, Spanish, British, Italian, Japanese and South Korean pavilions, organisers said.

Lines remained long on Monday when temperatures neared 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), but appeared to be flowing smoothly.

Ahead of the official May 1 opening, visitors to the site during a six-day trial period in April had complained of long queues, slow security checks and limited affordable food options, according to state media reports.

Officials say they have taken steps to improve operations.