Yeosu Expo Meets Visitor Target, Wraps up with Grand Fireworks Show

      August 13, 2012 09:03

      The sky of Yeosu was lit up with spectacular fireworks at 9:20 p.m. on Sunday as the city celebrated the end of 93-day Yeosu Expo 2012, which kicked off on May 12. Hundreds of spectators and performers who had held concerts and performances at the Expo joined hands and danced in circles to mark the successful wrapping up of the event.

      Since Yeosu was confirmed as the host city for the 2012 Expo in November 2007, Korea had four years and six months to prepare. The closing ceremony, which began at 7:30 p.m., was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, who both commended the hosts for doing a sterling job.

      "It was as meaningful and successful an Expo as any in the past," said Kim.

      Yeosu Expo 2012 reached its target of attracting 8 million visitors, and was generally applauded for the way in which it delivered its messages about climate change, maritime resource development, and maritime environment preservation to the public in a fun and accessible manner. The 8 millionth visitor arrived on the morning of the last day of the Expo.

      The Yeosu Expo's closing ceremony caps a successful three months on Sunday.

      For the organizers, the journey was not always smooth sailing, however. They created confusion early on by canceling the advance-booking system for entry tickets, then later going back and restoring it. And as attendance failed to match expectations, they were compelled to issue discounted and even free tickets to drum up the crowds, which stirred debates on fairness.

      Meanwhile, some pointed out that the Expo focused too much on cultural performances and entertainment, thus obscuring the real theme of maritime affairs. And despite the introduction of special Expo-related tours from major urban hubs like Busan and Seoul, the number of foreign visitors peaked at 400,000, 150,000 less than the initial goal.

      The organizing committee is now considering re-opening the venue within a month to maintain interest in the region as a tourist and investment destination. The next Expo will take place for six months from May 2015 in Milan, Italy.

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