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From jaw-dropping design to wow-inducing technological wizardry, the 2012 World’s Expo in Yeosu, Korea, is brimming with inspiration for exhibit and event professionals. EXHIBITOR Magazine’s Expo 2012 microsite features everything from Expo-related news and FAQs to historic World’s Expo highlights and video footage direct from Yeosu. This site also plays host to EXHIBITOR Magazine’s Expo 2012 Awards, honoring the best the world (well, the World’s Expo, at least) has to offer.
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Expo FAQ
Volume One: What, Where, When, and Who?


What in the world is the World’s Expo? To help you understand and appreciate Expo 2012, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions concerning the international event, expected to attract 10 million visitors. Send your pressing Expo 2012 questions to cpappas@exhibitormagazine.com and check back frequently as we’ll post answers to your inquiries throughout the duration of Expo 2012.



Q. Where is Expo 2012 being held?

A. Expo 2012 is being staged in Yeosu, South Korea. Located on the Asian country’s southern coast, the event will run for three months, from May 12 to August 12 of this year. It is the second time in the 161-year history of the world’s fair that the event has been held in that country of 50 million. The first occasion was in 1993, when the expo was held in Daejeon, a well-known science and technology hub in South Korea.

Before this year’s event, major world’s fairs (which now occur in years ending in 5 or 0) have spanned a wide variety of major urban centers, such as London, Paris, Shanghai, Chicago, New York, Montreal, and other notable cities. However, smaller expos — staged between the larger ones — are often held in slightly lesser-known cities such as Yeosu, with smaller populations and less cultural cachet. Previous sites include Tsukuba, Japan; Zaragoza, Spain; and Knoxville, TN.



Q. Who is responsible for Expo 2012?

A. While the South Korean government essentially oversees the location, logistics, and construction of Expo 2012, the governing body that sets the rules for it and other world’s fairs is the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE). After abortive attempt to establish it in 1914, due to the onset of World War I, the BIE was formally established in Paris, in 1928, by an international convention. The nations that convened that year endowed the BIE with the power to select and schedule world expos. Additionally, the BIE establishes the rights, rules, and responsibilities of those who produce and take part in these fairs. Prior to 1928, international exhibitions were staged according to the whims and caprices of the country that held them. Accordingly, the pre-1928 expos appeared on no particular schedule, and were held mostly in First World locations such as London, Paris, Vienna, Chicago, New York, and St. Louis, and tended to promote products rather than explore ideas.

Currently the 160 member nations of the BIE convene twice a year in Paris. Membership in the BIE is open to any country that agrees to abide by the 1928 Convention and the 1972 Protocol on International Exhibitions.

While the United States helped found the BIE, it is no longer a member of the international organization. Interest domestically in global expositions waned with the underwhelming 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, TN, and the 1984 Louisiana World’s Fair in New Orleans — “The Simpsons” lampooned the Knoxville expo in the 1996 episode “Bart on the Road” and the New Orleans effort was the first world’s fair to go broke during its run. In 1995, a Washington think tank denounced the annual BIE dues of $25,000 as “pork-barrel spending,” and in 2001, under the Bush administration, the United States defaulted on its membership by simply skipping its dues for several years. The United States could rejoin the BIE by raising public or private funds to pay back dues that are estimated to be $100,000. However, while the current administration may have parted ways with its predecessor on many issues, there seems to be no visible difference in its indifference to the BIE.



Q. How many countries are participating in Expo 2012?

A. The number of official participants stands at 104 countries, with nine international or non-governmental groups. This amount parallels the rosters of participating countries from other international/specialized expos such as the 104 counties who attended at 2008 expo in Zaragoza, Spain, and the 108 who appeared at the 1993 fair in Daejeon, Korea.

These international/specialized expos offer a substantial but not unexpected contrast with the larger world expos, such as the 2010 one in Shanghai, which drew in 192 countries and 50 international and non-governmental groups. The total of 242 exhibitors established a new record for fairs, eclipsing the previous mark of 172 set at Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany, by about 40 percent.

Below is an alphabetized list of the countries, international organizations, and non-governmental groups exhibiting at Expo 2012.

A
Algeria
Angola
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Armenia
Australia
Azerbaijan
B
Bangladesh
Belgium
Brunei
Burkina Faso
C
Cambodia
Central African Republic
China
Cote d’Ivoire
Colombia
Commonwealth of Dominica
Croatia
     
D
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Denmark
Dominican Republic
E
East Timor
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Eritrea
F
Fiji
France
     
G
Gabon
Gambia
Germany
Ghana
Grenada
Guatemala
Guinea
Guyana
H
Honduras
I
India
Indonesia
Israel
Italy
     
J
Japan
Jordan
K
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kiribati
L
Laos
Libya
Lithuania
     
M
Malaysia
Maldives
Mali
Marshall Islands
Mauritania
Mexico
Monaco
Mongolia
N
Nauru
Nepal
Netherlands
Nicaragua
Nigeria
Norway
O
Oman
     
P
Palau
Panama
Pakistan
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Q
Qatar
R
Romania
Russia
Rwanda
     
S
St. Kitts and Nevis
Samoa
Saudi Arabia (slated but may not appear)
Senegal
Seychelles
Singapore
Solomon Islands
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Suriname
Sweden
Switzerland
T
Tajikistan
Tanzania
Thailand
Tonga
Turkey
Tuvalu
U
Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United States
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
     
V
Vanuatu
Vietnam
T
Tunisia
Y
Yemen
     
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED)
Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA)
United Nations (UN)
World Food Programme (WFP)



Q. How many attendees are expected to attend Expo 2012?

A. An estimated 10 million people will visit Expo 2012 during the three months it runs from opening day on May 12 to closing day on August 12. Of that total, just 5.5 percent of attendees — about 550,000 — are expected to come from other countries. This figure includes a projected 300,000 Chinese and 200,000 Japanese attendees. Visitors from the United States, Europe, and other Southeast Asian locations (e.g., Hong Kong and Taiwan) are expected to constitute the remaining 50,000.

The fair’s projected audience falls about halfway between attendance figures for other recent international/specialized expos. The 2008 expo in Zaragoza, Spain, drew approximately 5.5 million visitors, while the 1998 fair in Lisbon, Portugal, pulled in 18.1 million attendees, and the 1993 expo in Daejeon, Korea, attracted nearly 14 million. Impressive as they are for a three-month run (in comparison, the latest12-month attendance figures for Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL, approached 17 million, per Burbank, CA-based Themed Entertainment Association), the numbers are dwarfed by those of officially designated world’s fairs. Expo ‘70 in Osaka, Japan, racked up 64 million visitors, Expo ‘92 in Seville, Spain, drew in 41.8 million, and Expo 2005 in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture near Tokyo accounted for 22 million. But even those were eclipsed by Expo 2010 in Shanghai, which realized a history-making 73.5 million attendees in its six months of operation — including a single-day record where it accrued more than 1.03 million visitors.

The partial list below of world’s fairs since 1851 shows the wide range of attendance. Items in red are officially or unofficially considered the smaller versions of world expositions known as international/specialized expos.


   Expo/City/Year    Attendees
Great Exhibition of the Works of All Nations/London/1851 6.2 million
Centennial International Exhibition/Philadelphia/1876 10 million
Exposition Universelle/Paris/1889 30 million
World’s Columbian Exposition/Chicago/1893 27.5 million
Louisiana Purchase Exposition/St. Louis/1904 20 million
Century of Progress Exposition/Chicago/1933 22.3 million
New York World’s Fair/New York/1939 44.9 million
New York World’s Fair/New York/1964 51.6 million
Expo ‘67/Montreal/1967 50.8 million
Expo ‘70/Osaka, Japan/1970 64 million
1984 Louisiana World’s Fair/New Orleans/1984 7.3 million
Expo ‘92 Seville/Spain/ 1992 41.8 million
Expo ‘92/Genoa, Italy /1992 1.7 million
Expo ‘93/Daejeon, Korea/1993 14 million
Expo ‘98/Lisbon, Portugal/1998 18.1 million
Expo 2000/ Hanover/Germany/2000 18 million
Expo 2005/Aichi Prefecture, Japan/2005 22 million
Expo 2008/Zaragoza, Spain/2008 5.5 million
Expo 2010/Shanghai, China/2010 73.5 million
Expo 2012/Yeosu, Korea/2012 10 million (projected)



Q. What does Expo 2012 have to do with exhibit and event marketing?

A. For the most part, countries at Expo 2012 fill the role that corporations do at trade shows and events. As such, there are many similarities in the techniques they bring to bear to achieve results. For example, Thailand’s or Turkey’s chief goal at Expo 2012 may be to improve their national image instead of selling widgets or generating leads, but both are doing it via branding and marketing campaigns executed by their respective exhibits or pavilions. Like companies exhibiting at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) or the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), nations at Expo 2012 construct limited physical spaces in close proximity to their competition for a short duration. Each fills its space with staffers and often products in hopes of engaging attendees via demos, presentations, literature, entertainment, activities, and the like. The United States, for instance, will man its pavilion with several dozen bilingual college students to greet and mingle with visitors, believing that non-professionals serve as more effective ambassadors for the American brand than any slick piece of Madison Avenue-style promotion could.

Like all other world’s fairs and expositions, however, Expo 2012 does have its share of commercial entities striving to meet standard-issue corporate goals. Korean-based firms like Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Hyundai Motor Co., and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Ltd. (DSME) have set up exhibits and displays to expose their firms to the expo’s projected audience of 10 million.

Considered one of the world’s largest shipbuilders, DSME is using the fair to burnish its brand. Inside its 23,700-square-foot pavilion the company is showing off five of its deep-sea drilling robots as well as offering educational exhibits on the automatons’ background and construction. While edifying, that aspect of the pavilion is unlikely to capture attention spans as thoroughly as a playing field the company has built where opposing teams of robots will vie against each other in soccer. Like General Motors Corp. exhibiting its outré concept cars at NAIAS, or Microsoft Corp. demonstrating its next-generation motion-recognition technology at E3, DSME will try to establish itself as an industry leader by tantalizing attendees with visions of the wonders it will help usher in.



 
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