"There is no love sincerer than the love of food." -- George Bernard Shaw
Expo Milano 2015 is displaying considerable success on many fronts: popular, critical, visitation and international goodwill.
Organizers showed savvy in choosing a theme that revolves around food – allowing exhibitors to address the serious angles (world hunger, food sustainability, agribusiness) while simply celebrating the joy of food. This brilliant theme has allowed the Expo to leverage the brand of Italy – its inherent appeal for travelers and residents alike. Food and food security are subjects on which every exhibitor can shine as well. Moreover, world’s fairs have historically ushered in a wide range of breakthroughs and these have included food trends.
Food is something that never goes out of style, never loses its relevance and has always been a key element of an expo even when not central to the theme. I think Milan 2015 will stand as an example of a world’s fair perfectly tailored to its region and to its era.
Politically, the expo is established on the international radar as a place to be seen. Expo 2015 Milano has been drawing heads of state and dignitaries from around the world. A partial list includes the presidents of Italy, France, Spain, Russia, Mexico, Lithuania, Columbia, Ivory Coast and Madagascar; the Queen of Belgium; the Prime Minister of Egypt; and from the US, First Lady Michelle Obama, Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Measuring success by attendance, Milan 2015, a 6-month expo running May 1-Oct 31, reached 8.3 million at the halfway mark. As, historically, visitation rates balloon toward the end of an expo as closing day looms, Milan is likely to reach the 20 million total that organizers originally projected.
A look at attendance totals for the previous expos held in this century provides context. Milan’s numbers are very competitive with the last 6-month world’s fair held in Europe, Hanover 2000, and well ahead of the more recent, 3-month event in Zaragoza (Spain). The much higher Shanghai numbers reflect the much larger local population that region has to draw upon.
Many thanks to consultant James Ogul, InPark’s world’s fair expert, who was a resource for this article.
- Yeosu 2012: 8,203,956 (3 months)
- Shanghai 2010: 73,000,000 (6 months)
- Zaragoza 2008: 5,650,941 (3 months)
- Aichi 2005: 22,049,544 (6 months)
- Hanover 2000: 18,000,000 (6 months)