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Few Buyers for Pricey Stamped Passports

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Most visitors to the Expo may like to collect as many pavilion stamps as possible, but there are not many online buyers for the exorbitantly-priced, stamped Expo passports, which carry seals of all the national pavilions.

The price of purchasing stamped Expo passports online has increased 10 fold. A passport with 45 stamps is priced between 280 yuan to 320 yuan on Taobao, China's largest online trading platform, while a blank passport costs only 30 yuan in souvenir stores.

Statistics show that less than 100 stamped passports were sold nationwide over the past week.

"The main function of the passport is to record my trip to the Expo Garden. It is meaningless to have such a passport if you haven't been to the exhibition," said Yu Aina.

Expo organizers said they would strengthen cooperation with the market watchdog to monitor trading activities, especially in the Expo Garden.

"We hope no one will sell stamped passports in the Expo Garden," said Zhang Xinsheng, deputy director with the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.

Faced with difficulties in distinguishing visitors from scalpers, pavilion organizers have yet to come up with plans to reject visitors' requests for stamps.

"Unless they seriously affect our normal work, we will not reject their requests," said Zhou Wei, a staff member at the Mexico pavilion.

The Expo passport has become so popular in the Expo Garden that it is sold out in just a few hours every day in some souvenir stores.

Organizers admitted they underestimated the demand for the Expo passports.

"In previous Expos, only about 5 percent of the visitors purchased the passports," said Zhang. "The situation this year is beyond our expectations."

"We have increased our production capacity to 80,000 copies per day," said Lin Shengyong, an official with the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.

The Expo passport was designed with 46 pages for pavilion stamps.

Virtual Expo passports, which can be stamped online, are also available for those who take an online tour of the Expo Garden.

(China Daily May 13, 2010)

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