Australian gives account of global Yeosu Expo experience
By John Redmond
The Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea in South Jeolla Province is into the second stretch of this four month event.
Under the theme “The Living Ocean and Coast” with access to the site by all modes of transport, including sea, air, high speed rail and road, many in Korea have taken time to visit this world’s fair.
The Korea Times met with Brisbane, Australia native Peter Loxton, third time Expo participant, to ask him to give a little background information and his account of how Korea is responding to this event.
Loxton, a veteran of two prior World Expos, who worked in at the Australian Pavilion in Nagoya, Japan in 2005 and Shanghai, China in 2010, explained that his interest in the event goes back to childhood.
The Korea Times: How did you get involved in Expos?
Peter Loxton: Unintentionally. I was aware of them as I frequented Expo 88 in Brisbane as a child but did not specifically seek them out. I applied for a job in Japan in accounting and the mix of working for Australia in Japan in my chosen profession at the time was a perfect opportunity. As the accountant for the Australian Pavilion, I saw the entire life cycle of a hybrid Australian/Japanese business which was set up, run and deregistered within 15 months. I also became involved in major events for the first time. It was a great experience. For Shanghai, it was an opportunity to work at the largest event ever held, with 73 million visitors so it was hard to turn down. I now have a joint-venture business that specializes in providing services for Australia at Expos.
Q: What are the strengths of Expos?
A: Expos are excellent events for the host city and countries and the people who attend them. They are a chance for participating countries to show the best of their country in reference to the event theme. It also brings together people from all over the world which is a real melting pot. In the case of Yeosu 2012, Australia has brought more than 20 Australian nationals to Yeosu for the event to work within the team which includes many people from all over Korea.
Q: How does the Yeosu differ from other events?
A: Firstly Yeosu is a small town compared to Nagoya and Shanghai. The setting is beautiful and much more laid back. In addition, this is my first 3 month Expo, the previous two were 6 months. That makes the imperative to maximize the benefit of Australia’s participation much more critical with the timing. However, the other functions of the Pavilion, such as recruiting staff, sourcing uniforms and finding suppliers, are no different.
Q: How is the Korean public responding to the Australian pavilion? What is the most popular etc?
A: Very well. Our attendances are very strong and the visitors are very happy when they visit Australia. We have had a very good response to our Kangaroo Gal-bi-jjim dish which is Australian Kangaroo served in a traditional Korean style. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to try it.
Q: How well attended is the event?
A: The event so far has not met its forecasts for visitors but attendances are growing; particularly now with the holidays. The Australian Pavilion has exceeded our attendance forecasts and shows the popularity of the Pavilion.
Q: What do you see as its function?
A: Australia’s participation at this event shows the strength and importance of the Australia/Korea relationship and the success of the Pavilion has hopefully assisted in strengthening it. I am proud to be part of the Australian Pavilion and think that the Expo has been a very positive event for Yeosu and the people of Korea.
Q: Where next?
A: The project will take a few months to be finalized and then I am going home for a holiday and hopefully to start a family with my wife. Nothing is certain yet but if Australia participates at Milan in 2015, hoping that I will be there too.
Loxton worked at the World Expo 2005 as an accountant and at Shanghai World Expo 2010 as commercial manager. He is currently at the Australian Pavilion as operations manager, responsible for the visitor experience.