Germany World's Fair draws a crowd on opening day

NEW YORK -- The June 1 grand opening of the World's Fair in Hannover, Germany, drew an estimated attendance of 160,000, according to an Expo 2000 spokesman, higher than the 150,000 expected.

By 1 p.m. on opening day, 125,000 visitors had arrived, and a gala concert that evening drew 20,000 more.

Although the $1.7 billion Expo 2000 is expected to lose money (the spokesman said the projected operational loss is $193 million), the government's tax revenue will be an estimated $2.12 billion, "so we're making back for the government 10 times what the loss will be."

Expo organizers do not expect Americans to fly in specifically for the event.

"It's more realistic to expect Americans to be in Germany, [particularly] to be in Berlin, and [then] visit the expo," the spokesman said.

By high-speed train, the expo is approximately an hour and half from Berlin and an hour from Hamburg; the Oberammergau's Passion Play Festival is approximately three-and-a-half hours away.

"A lot of American tourists want to see something more than the stereotypes of Germany, to travel north and see the other side," the Expo 2000 spokesman said.

"And it's important to break the stereotypes -- not only for Germans but for the other countries represented here," he said.

The German National Tourist Office expects 200,000 Americans to visit the expo, according to a spokesman.

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