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Dumisani Nsingo and Dickson Mangena, Business Reporters
THE Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Company is looking forward to restoring the high number of countries it used to attract for its exhibition at its peak.
In an interview with Sunday Business after a press conference on Friday ZITF Company board chairperson Ms Ruth Ncube said the country’s leading international exhibition organiser was making numerous efforts to increase the number of nations exhibiting at its biennial showcase.
At its peak ZITF, used to attract more than 50 nations but the number has drastically fallen over the years and it has been attracting just over 10 countries.
“We might have less (countries exhibiting), we might even have more, but a month is good enough for us to still have some more arrivals. There are many aspects why the countries were not coming to exhibit. Maybe it’s that they have been having economic turmoil themselves.
“If you look at our own (country) again we have run into similar problems (of economic meltdown), it is really about the situation and inter-country relations that have caused the issues of the decline. However, as the economy has gone through these problems I think we have been resilient and we haven’t got to a point where we have said let us forget about ZITF,” she said.
Ms Ncube also hinted that the Company’s overseas agents were doing a splendid job to lure countries and companies from their bases.
“The agents overseas have been consistent and they worked very hard. We keep in touch with these agents throughout the year, and we normally know on time who is coming and who isn’t coming and they state the reasons why. Most of it really is affordability based, but the consistency is maintained,” she said.
The ZITF Company has, however, expressed satisfaction at the ever increasing numbers of Small to Medium Enterprises exhibiting at the showcase.
“If you look at where we have experienced a bad year, we actually had an upsurge in local exhibitors from Small to Medium Enterprises exhibitor participation. As we seen the economy improving we have seen the medium to large and big corporate coming back with the view of improved confidence throughout.
“You should know that we are talking to these people as we are preparing. Yes they (local businesses) worry about a number of things, but predominantly they are saying it is not a time of wait and see attitude we are going for this thing now we are business people, let us look for strategies that work in the environments that we have,” said Ms Ncube.
The ZITF Company board chairperson said the liquidity crunch prevailing in the country had not affected preparations for this year’s fair.
“We are not feeling the liquidity crunch and we have not felt it and we will not feel it, looking at almost 90 percent occupancy that we have at the moment. Looking at the issues of gate takings and all, we believe our rates are competitive and consumers are saying this is fair…as mentioned corporates are now coming back and are seeing a lot of good things into the future coming into the country,” said Ms Ncube.
This year’s 58th edition of the ZITF will run from 25 to 29 April under the theme: “Harnessing Linkages for Industrial Development”.
A total of 41 000 square metres of exhibition space has been sold.
“Bookings and inquiries continue to come on a daily basis from within Zimbabwe and abroad, with a total of 41 000 square metres having been booked so far. This represents close to 90 percent of space taken which is at par with the figures we had this time last year.
“Foreign participation is encouraging with a total of 14 countries having confirmed their participation. These include Botswana, China, Ethiopia, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Turkey,” said Ms Ncube.