Passports give us the opportunity to cross borders and discover new horizons, while keeping a record of our journeys throughout the world. As the first day of the "Week at Expo 2017" series, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Expo passports and their continued popularity to this day.
Organisers of Expo 1967 Montreal first issued Expo passports as a novel form of ticket, with a separate page for each participating country to encourage visits to as many pavilions as possible. Visitors could either purchase an adult passport, or a youth passport. Shaped like a small booklet, these “passports” were sold at the entrance to the Expo site, and have since become one of the most popular souvenirs for visitors who want to keep track of all the different pavilions they visit.
After Expo 1967, the passport trend grew and was included in a number of subsequent Expos whether World Expos or Specialised Expos. Over the years, national and corporate pavilions have become more creative and bold with the designs of their stamps in an effort to reflect their ‘brand’ or ‘identity’, so that visitors remember them whenever they look in their “passports”.
Stamps from popular international pavilions are particularly sought after, with some willing to queue for long periods not just to experience the exhibits, but also to get their passport stamped and have proof of their “journey”, albeit fleeting, to another country.
The craze for passports was evident at Expo 2010 Shanghai, where visitors waited in line for hours to get all the stamps. A novelty in this trend was the use of stamps as a traffic management tool to reward visitors' engagement, with express passes to skip the queue or prizes for certain stamp combinations. The frenzy led pavilions to create special areas dedicated to passport stamping. Some international pavilions used the occasion to increase awareness of their country, requiring visitors to take a quiz before they stamped their passport.
Half a century after it first made an appearance, the famed Expo 1967 passport has been reproduced in a digital and paper format as part of a range of actvities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Expo. Coinciding with this anniversary, visitors to Expo 2017 Astana can also get their hands on a passport to be stamped in all their favourite pavilions.
The navy blue and gold passport features an illustration of the recognisable Expo site with Nur-Alem at its centre. With enough space to fit the stamps of all international participants, the passport's introduction proudly proclaims to its holder "You have the privilige of holding Expo 2017 citizen's passport that allows you to visit 115 participant pavilions in the visa-free regime."
The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.