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Ratel.kz: How could the profitability of EXPO 2017 be checked — unbiased local assessment of an exposition in Astana

Написано 3 Июль, 2017 в категории Politics

Ratel.kz, in an article by Denis Krivosheyev entitled “Как проверить рентабельность международной выставки” – “How could the profitability of an international exhibition be checked”, said: “EXPO-noise — to judge by its strength and resonance — is comparable to white noise, the echo of a big bang in the universe. The Astana happening is currently being lauded by dozens of TV channels, hundreds of newspapers, and thousands of sites and a similar number of bloggers.
Any reasonable voice, imbued with common sense, is destined to be absorbed by the cacophony of sounds and opinions.  There are no critical media materials, and those appearing are being obstructed and quickly eradicated from the peoples’ minds by new layers of loyal information.
Simply put, anyone not on our side is an enemy. As is customary with street fighting – a group brawl, involving two teams.
The only problem is that there is only one team – our team. And the world couldn’t care less about EXPO. Newspaper articles that being published in foreign media mostly seem to be biased in Astana EXPO favor. Why is it not possible to assert this with complete certainty, because no one has access to the documents.
We have never been told what is the specialized exhibition made of, and where are the promised millions of tourists.
What good are the attendance calculations?! Three hundred thousand border crossings, 2 million visits. Abstract numbers, that no one can decipher. Nobody can say how many citizens have entered the exhibition having presented their tickets. Taking into account those using Astana Expo administration laissez-passer, this is a pointless, dead end job.
Here is how the official data look: “Pavilions of the exhibition were visited by 205 561 people, the total number of visits to the exhibition is 1 million 57 thousand 218”.
On average, it turns out that each visitor gets acquainted with five pavilions.
Yet, whatever the number of those visiting the exhibition, even on a paid basis, may be, this wouldn’t recoup the costs of Expo and, most importantly, this wouldn’t give it added meaning. And here’s why. As soon as the ticket prices were announced, calculations have been made. And the following became clear: even if everyone, including maintenance staff, will visit the exhibition, the proceeds resulting from this, wouldn’t cover the cost of even only one pavilion”.
Arithmetic is the simplest and most effective tool for verifying profitability, but for the sake of fairness and impartiality, we are going to slightly embellish reality.
Let’s say that the average ticket costs $15 and the exhibition will be visited by 50 million person-times. In such an eventuality, overall sales revenue should be projected to amount to $750 million. But reality is much more complicated. If the cost of the average ticket is $15, nine out of ten tickets, at best, wouldn’t be bought. And overall sales revenue would be adequately smaller. It may be assumed that the exhibition will be partially paid back in terms of better returns. With an average price of $ 15, they will buy ten times less at best, which means that the amount will also be proportionally smaller. We can assume that part of the exhibition will pay off through the leasing of pavilions by the participating countries.
There is every reason to believe that this income item is also not so high. While watching the Astana exhibition, I began to wonder, what do Somalia and the Congo, the Caribbean or African countries got to do with the energy of the future?
What did Barbados do for scientific and technological progress?
The vast territories reserved for demonstrating the achievements of the national economy, actually serve — at best — as a bazaar for artisans whose craftsman’s level is, by the way, quite low, and — at worst – as a platform for sales of Chinese souvenirs. Beads, handbags, bracelets made of improvised (sometimes, maybe, of used and thrown away) materials (such as aluminum cans).
Do the governments of these countries have money to participate in the event, and if “yes”, do they spend it so ineptly? Astana is a very small city, and here it is extremely difficult to hide information, even if you take away all smart-phones.
Well, according to a source in the administration of EXPO, 60 pavilions did not bring Kazakhstan a penny, which is only mildly irritating, because it turns out, the Astana exhibition organizers also help some participants to cover their expenses.
Maybe, the information is not factual, but then it would be desirable to see the documents that would disprove the available data. For example, it would be desirable to see transactions by the countries participating in the event.
Rating agencies have already begun to calculate the true costs of the exhibition. According to ranking.kz, the country spent 565 billion tenge (1 Kazakhstani tenge equals 0.0031 US dollar) over the last five years. As a result we get those three billion dollars, mentioned by the president of Kyrgyzstan, though, after taking into account the exchange rate difference. These funds could have been used to do a lot, but they have been spent on a ball and several pavilions. It is difficult to say whether this is right or not. Last year in Antalya, the local authorities did not bother so much, did not try to surprise half of the universe and make the world laugh. The pavilions, made of cardboard, were dismantled, the flowers that had been the subject of the exhibition were sold. As for us, we are going to have to keep this huge place warm after the exhibition is forgotten by those who have not heard about it.
And expenditures for the project, apparently, shall not be limited only to three billion dollars. It is necessary to include in the project cost the entire infrastructure that has been built in Astana, and money they spend now on maintaining security and transport efficiency.
It is impossible not to touch upon the quality of the pavilions. Russia has decided to surprise with an iceberg and the northern sea route which have indirect relevance to the energy of the future.
African and South American states, the islands and other nations beyond the range of the 30 most developed countries, except us, are, of course, advertising the tourist potential of their “motherlands”, while selling souvenirs. The Vatican seems to be the center of true energy, which is pure and without sin, their subject is about aesthetics and humility.
Only a few pavilions make an impression. Austrian exposition is a genuine pleasure for children. A show that allows you to understand what energy is, so if you are after entertainment, you have to go up there. Well, add Belgium. The country itself has refused to participate, apparently, even for money, and it is represented by the largest holding, which is trying to initiate the construction of a solar, silicium-free station in Kazakhstan. This is a structure occupying 12 hectares, with turning mirrors, concentrating the sunlight on the steam generator.
In a private conversation that took place three years ago, a high-ranking official uttered a sacramental phrase: “There will be an EXPO, and we will not notice it, except that the salute will be visible through the window”. It was clear then that there was some truth in his words. There were held the Asian Games, which remained unnoticed not only by the world, but also by the cities, Almaty and Astana, in which they were held. In their place now we have a lot of useless objects that no one knows how to use. There was held the Universiade, which left behind two almost identical palaces with a foggy and unpromising future. And here is EXPO and a “big glowing aluminum ball”. And it’s funny only in KVN (a Russian humour TV show)”.

P.S.: 1. Last month, Almazbek Atambayev, president of Kyrgyzstan, said the following: “If we spent $3 billion on the organization of the exposition like in Astana, I’d probably be burned alive. You know how it sometimes happens. Should you ever borrow $1 billion for the construction of a road, you must hear so much talking. We spent $30 million for the World Games of the nomads, and even those expenses were covered by donors. Yet, some people still express their indignation”.
2. KVN (“Club of the Funny and Inventive People”) is a Russian humour TV show and competition where teams (usually college students) compete by giving funny answers to questions and showing prepared sketches. It originated in the Soviet Union.

Danish AZIM

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