Expo Milano 2015  › Business and economy

Forecast for September and October shows the Expo Milano 2015 fair is close to meeting 20 million visitor target

by Sara Monaci

The month of August is about to wrap up with an unexpected number of visitors at Expo Milano 2015: three million, an average of 100,000 entries a day. This is far above the initial forecast of approximately 2 million, based on statistical estimates rather than actual projections.

After below-par performance in July (the month officially closed with 2.8 million visitors but the exhibition site was visibly underpopulated), August surprised everyone, leading organizers to hope for a final sprint above 3 million visitors for both September and October – also considering the fact that at least 1 million of these will be school groups, like in May and June.

Beyond the actual numbers, which are not so different from recent official data, what stands out is the diverse breakdown of tourists.

The first two months, at least one million entries were school groups; from May to July, 15% of visitors were in the evening, i.e. those who come in at 7 pm and exit at midnight to enjoy the Expo nightlife for a decidedly cheaper ticket (5 Euros against an average €30 for the whole day).

In addition, June and July saw the presence of numerous international heads of state, a great number of conventions and politico-institutional meetings.

The type of public changed after August 1: more families and individuals, with most people staying on the exhibition site all day, lining up in the early morning before the turnstiles have even opened (which they do at 10).

Contrary to expectations, August saw lots of Italians – they were expected in the fall but many are there now: reportedly, at least 60% of visitors are nationals.

We are beginning to note some Chinese among the remaining 40%: tour operators had sold a million tickets to the Chinese but so far, they'd been nowhere to be seen.

All restaurants are more or less full, and a few pavilions attract long lines, just as in the previous months. The Japanese pavilion peaked at 3 hours' waiting time this month.

Other popular areas were Brazil, Kazakhstan, Colombia and Angola.

Another favorite is Pavilion Zero, unanimously considered one of the most beautiful and located right at the beginning of the Decumanus or World Avenue, one of two main arteries of the exposition, where guest countries are located.

Pavilion Zero has become so popular that the Expo organizing company or Società Expo 2015 is considering the possibility of letting it stand even after the universal exposition closes its doors – or at least in the transitory phase from November 2015 to June 2016, before the land is given back to its owner, Arexpo.

Long lines are also evident along the other principal road, the north-south one called Cardo, entirely devoted to our country and leading to Palazzo Italia.

Organizers are now awaiting the final rush in the fall. Officially, entries declared at the end of July were 8.6 million while tickets sold were close to 9.5 million.

The month of August should up the total to 11.6 million.

According to present forecasts, the months of September and October should increase the total number of visitors to 19 million, i.e. very close to the 20-million goal declared by Expo Commissioner Giuseppe Sala.