The Sunday Mail
China is the largest foreign exhibitor at this year’s edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), which is expected to attract more participants compared to previous years. Chinese exhibitors this year occupy 1 061 square metres of exhibition space, up from 600 square metres last year.
South Africa, which is occupying 800 square metres, comes second after China.
The 55th edition of the trade fair runs from April 22 to 26 in Bulawayo at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre under the theme, “New Ideas to New Heights”.
According to the ZITF general manager Mrs Noma Ndlovu, more exhibition space was likely to be taken up compared to last year.
Information obtained by The Sunday Mail Business indicates that over 92 percent of the net 55 000 square metre exhibition space has so far been booked compared to the closing total of 94 percent recorded last year.
The exhibition space includes halls, pavilions and external cites.
“Most of the exhibition space has been taken and only limited space is still available for last-minute bookings,” said Mrs Ndlovu.
Over the last decade, Zimbabwe’s premier business exhibition had struggled to attract foreign exhibitors. However, an aggressive Brand Zimbabwe marketing strategy coupled with the economic recovery programme Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) is envisaged to bring back Zimbabwe on the investment list.
Mrs Ndlovu notes that the number of exhibitors (both foreign and local) has been increasing over the past five years.
She said the event had managed to retain more than 50 percent of its exhibitors over the last editions.
“Net area for sale over the last four years has averaged 55 000 square metres. Take-up of this space has been above 90 percent with 94 percent being the closing total space taken in 2012 and 2013. Exhibitor participation has been pleasing with 60 percent of our client base returning year-after-year while 40 percent is made up of first-time exhibitors,” said Mrs Ndlovu.
The ZITF official also added that besides attracting more exhibitors, the number of foreign countries participating in the event was on an upward trend.
She attributed the trend to the support from the Sadc countries that were promoting the international event.
“The number of foreign nations participating has been increasing. In 2013, 16 nations were represented up from 14 the previous year. Support from the Sadc region has always been strong. We look forward to increased participation from countries further afield in future editions,” said the ZITF general manager.
Highlights of the five-day exhibition include the Zimbabwe International Business Conference on April 23 organised in partnership with National Economic Consultative Forum among other stakeholders.
The business conference will run under the theme, “Technology and Innovation: A Key Pillar for Zim-Asset Successful Implementation” and will feature local and international speakers.
Vice President Joice Mujuru is expected to deliver a keynote address at the business conference.
Countries represented at ZITF this year include Brazil, China, Congo Brazzaville, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Poland, South Africa, USA, Bangladesh, India and Nigeria.
The business exhibition runs concurrently with sector-specific expos that include– PakPrint, the packaging and printing industry exhibition, Ultim8 Home, the home improvement expo, Scholastica, the education and careers expo and A’sambeni the Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Events (Mice) exhibition.
Congo Brazzaville president Denis Sassou Nguesso is expected to officially open the event.
According to statistics from the ZITF offices, the annual event and its concurrent expos attracted 51 000 business visitors and 37 000 non-business visitors from across the world last year.
Meanwhile, Mrs Ndlovu said 20 buyers had been invited from the Sadc region for the Meetings Incentives Conference Exhibitions (Mice) tourism-related exhibitions under A’sambeni.
Mice Tourism educational workshops are aimed at educating and creating awareness to Zimbabwean corporate executives on the role played by tourism associations and non-governmental organisations in profiling Zimbabwe as a meetings and conferencing destination.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and ZITF have since signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the two organisations jointly organise and run the Expo on April 24