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Swiss happy with Expo 2000

The Sound Box, Switzerland's exhibition at Expo 2000 in Hanover

(Keystone)

Expo 2000, the world fair in Hanover, has closed after five months that have drawn only half the number of visitors expected and left a mountain of debt for the German taxpayer. But the Swiss are happy with the exhibition.

The management of Switzerland's pavilion say the Sound Box, as it is called, drew four million visitors, making it one of the most visited.

Expo 2000 attracted a total of 18 million guests, instead of the 40 million forecast.

The Sound Box team attributed their success to the pavilion's spectacular architecture and to the ambitious artistic concept for its content.

"The courageous exhibition has proved its worth," the management said in a statement. "Switzerland has been admired for its contribution, which will be seen as an inspiration for future projects of this kind."

The Swiss pavilion, designed by the renowned architect, Peter Zumthor, was made of 3,000 cubic metres of larch and pine wood. However, the planks were left undamaged in the construction, which was held together by cables, so that the wood can now be used for other building projects.

Ruth Grossenbacher-Schmid, Switzerland's commissioner-general in Hanover, said she was confident throughout that Expo would be a success, even during the slowest weeks at the beginning of the fair.

"At first there were doubts," she told swissinfo, "but I was always sure it wouldn't be a flop, but a success."

Grossenbacher-Schmid said her optimism was bolstered by the steady success of the Swiss pavilion, which was also critically acclaimed by the media and visitors alike.

"For me the high point was that Switzerland always had top marks. And we never lost energy, but were always among the happy few."

Despite larger numbers of visitors in the final weeks, Expo 2000 has failed by far to meet its organisers' expectations. As the doors close on the fair on Tuesday, the German assessment is likely to be much less positive than the Swiss.

The deficit is expected to total about DM 2.4 billion (SFr2 billion).

swissinfo with agencies


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