Wed, Jan 19, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Flora expo visitor numbers drop as cold weather hits

HIBERNATING:One of the organizers of the 2005 World Expo in Japan said that it is normal for visitor numbers to dip when the temperature goes down

Staff Writer, with CNA

Organizers of the Taipei International Flora Expo expressed optimism yesterday that the fair would still meet its goal of attracting 8 million visitors despite the sharp decline in attendance recently due to the cold weather.

An average of 20,500 people per day have visited the flora expo over the past week and the fair’s attendance low was set on Wednesday last week, when only 12,191 people showed up.

Those numbers represent a sharp drop-off from the 55,000 visitors per day recorded last month.

However, flora expo organizing committee director Ting Hsi-yung (丁錫鏞), who announced on Jan. 5 that the fair had attracted its 3 millionth visitor since opening on Nov. 6, said he was not worried about the overall impact of the sudden decline in visitor numbers.

“We have sold more than 5.5 million tickets and 3.05 million of them have yet to be used,” said Ting, who has since changed the English spelling of his name to Ting See-you because, as he said on his Facebook page, he wants to “see you” at the flora expo.

According to Ting, the expo will partner up with electronics giant Hon Hai Precision Industry during the Lunar New Year early next month to invite disadvantaged groups to enjoy the Expo.

Ting said gift coupons will also be distributed based on the theme “loving and caring” to boost consumption inside the venues.

For some expo vendors, however, the move lacks appeal.

“What we need is a large crowd of people who can afford high-end products,” said Amber Tseng, a souvenir shop keeper.

According to Tseng, her shop’s foot traffic has dropped by “more than half” since the beginning of this month compared with a peak of more than 400 people per day last month.

Still, other experts said that as long as the quality of the expo remained good, there was no need to worry whether the 8 million attendance target would be met.

The number of fair visitors typically plummets to one-third of the daily average during cold spells, but rebounds when it is warmer, said Hirokazu Kaku, the director of the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan.

“The pursuit of quality is all that matters,” he said. “The weather factor is just temporary.”

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