The 61st edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) kicked off in Bulawayo Tuesday on a low note, with some exhibitors still making final touches to their stands, with very few business visitors touring the area, which in the previous years has been a hive of activity.
Meaningful activity began after 12noon, an indication Covid-19 has negatively impacted this year’s trade show-case.
The country’s premier jamboree, which was suspended last year owing to rising Covid-19 cases and postponed twice this year still as a result of the pandemic runs from Tuesday through Friday under the theme: “Showcasing the New Normal for Business and Industry: Realities and Opportunities.”
“I was actually looking forward to coming here but right now the first day is kind of calm, not really many people here,” said United Fertilisers Company limited (UFCL) director, Maksim Poltoradnev, who is from Russia.
He said he looked forward to Wednesday becoming a better day.
“For the first day, look, it started a bit not very good in the morning,” said Treger Products Group Marketing Director, Sithokozile Ndlovu.
She said a number of factors had affected the turnout at ZITF on day one
“I would say mainly it’s Covid and at the same time, the people around get used to the idea that we have the trade fair in April, come September, we have got other plans, we can expect people to change their yearly plans because trade fair has changed. So you would find that most people had other plans for September and will not be able to come to the trade fair and that’s what I am seeing. For companies from Harare, they are having the agricultural show next week, so maybe that’s why some of them didn’t come because it’s difficult to actually have a show in Bulawayo this week and also have another one in Harare the following week. It makes it very difficult and also for financing purposes for companies, it becomes a bit costly to have two big shows in one month. That’s basically what I have seen around.”
ZimTrade southern region manager Jacqueline Nyathi was however optimistic the business would pick up as the week progresses.
“We hope that business will pick up as the days progress,” said Nyathi.
“Today is the first day and given that people are still wary about Covid times, maybe that’s why the traffic is still low but we are hopeful that as we progress with the week, we will see a greater turnout.”