Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) has proved itself as one of the country’s biggest trade exhibition platforms amid revelations that one of the companies that participated at last year’s showcase managed to rake in $2 million from sale of merchandise.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ luncheon on Thursday, ZITF Company chairperson Ms Ruth Ncube said the exhibition remains an ideal platform for exhibitors to clinch lucrative business deals.
This year’s exhibition will run from 25 to 29 April and would be held under the theme: “Harnessing Linkages for Industrial Development”.
The show would be officially opened by Namibian President Hage Geingob while Vice-President Emmerson Mnangangwa would be the guest of honour at the ZITF International Business Conference to be held on 26 April.
“ZITF provides a neutral territory for business negotiations to generate sales leads. One exhibitor at the ZITF 2016 closed a sale of $2 million at the fair. It (ZITF) opens up opportunities for SMEs to showcase their products to target markets cost effectively,” she said.
The ZITF 2016 Exhibitors Survey also shows that 57 percent of the participants received new orders during the course of the exhibition, up from 35 percent recorded in 2015.
Ms Ncube said the ZITF Company had come up with a number of strategies aimed at ensuring that exhibitors realise more sales during the exhibition and the aftermath of the show.
“We have set up different strategies to ensure that exhibitors realise more sales at ZITF 2017 which for some could be concluded during the show while for others well after the show especially those with sales oriented goals,” she said.
The ZITF Company has introduced exhibitors Master Class, meant to equip participants with strategies on how to participate successfully at any exhibition around the world with tangible results. It has also improved mobile applications. The applications allow exhibitors to pre-schedule business to business meetings with their potential customers who have registered to attend the show.
“We have also invited qualified buyers who are keen to do business in our markets. Lastly we have various networking platforms which increase chances of the exhibitors meeting their potential customers.
“The platforms include the ZITF International Business Conference, ZITF Charity Golf Challenge and the ZITF manufacturers and original equipment Breakfast, with all these strategies in place we believe exhibitors are going to realise more sale during the show,” said Ms Ncube.
One of the ZITF Company’s thrust for its 2017-2020 strategy is also to position the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre (ZIEC) as a Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) venue as it moves to ensure its facilities are utilised throughout the year.
ZIEC’s annual average occupancy rate is estimated to be only 30 percent with the ZITF and Mine Entra exhibitions taking most of the space.
“We have directed our efforts at engaging different stakeholders with different capacities of influencing decisions of where meetings are held. So far we have met with Heads of Missions from different countries, Government officials as well as the public and private sector chief executive officers.
“We look forward to attracting more Guest Expos and other high level events from across the world. We will also launch more events on our calendar to ensure that more space is utilised. We also want to encourage leaseholders to consider using their pavilions for their day to day business,” said Ms Ncube.
The ZITF Company’s highest figure of exhibitors to date remains the 1997 showcase where it managed to attract 1 200 participants with 640 being locals and 552 foreigners while a total of 50 countries exhibited. Exhibitors numbers fell to 640 in 2009.
“Due to improving economic performance, the number (of exhibitors) peaked at 834 in 2011 and slowed down from 2013. Our big ZITF vision is to take the exhibition to its former glory. A turnaround strategy has been crafted,” said Ms Ncube.
The new strategy is expected to increase exhibitors to 1 000 by 2019 with foreign exhibitors expected to constitute 30 percent of the total exhibitors from the current 20 percent.