95pc of ZITF exhibition space taken up: Ndebele
Senior Business Reporter
PREPARATIONS for this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair are progressing well with 95 percent of the available exhibition space having been taken up so far by 547 exhibitors that have expressed interest in the expo.
The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Company, the organisers of the country’s premier business expo, are mulling plans to secure supplementary exhibition space to accommodate late entries at the show that has so far registered the interest of 16 foreign nations.
Last year, the ZITF, which is traditionally held in Bulawayo at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre (ZIEC) attracted 11 foreign nations and 514 exhibitors.
This year’s event will be held under the theme, “Transformative Innovation, Global Competitiveness” from April 25 to 29.
Speaking by telephone on Monday, the ZITF Company chief executive officer, Dr Nick Ndebele, said they are excited about this year’s event from which they are expecting strong growth in both participation and attendance numbers.
“So far we are sitting at 547 entities that have expressed interest to participate in this year’s show and these include 76 new exhibitors and 16 countries that are represented. These countries are Angola, Belarus, Botswana, China, Kenya, Japan, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Iran, South Africa, Tanzania, United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Zambia.
“We are also happy to advise that the EU (European Union) will be setting up a pavilion to accommodate its partners and Member States, so that’s something very interesting.
“Given this strong demand, we are likely to find some supplementary exhibition space this time around as we did last time,” he said.
As a way of easing congestion at the ZIEC when the show commences, Dr Ndebele said they will be setting up an office in Harare for collection of badges by exhibitors from the 11th to the 15th of April.
“We will be advising our exhibitors where they can possibly collect their badges so that they are not inconvenienced when the show commences.
“So far the exhibitors and pavilion owners are busy sprucing up their surroundings and renovating in line with the theme,” he said.
This year, the annual event focuses on providing platforms for engagement between local and foreign investors as well as an interactive platform to promote economic development in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1).
Already major hotels and lodges in Bulawayo are fully booked for this year’s trade fair but the accommodation challenge is one of the major issues that has traditionally been affecting delegates and exhibitors to the ZITF.
The accommodation challenge has largely been induced by Bulawayo’s hotel and lodges beds that are less than 1 000 against an overwhelming number of visitors in the city during the ZITF period.
It is in this context that the ZITF Company in recent years announced plans to build a 300-bed hotel and convention centre in an area adjacent to the Bradfield Golf Course but the project has not yet taken shape.
If implemented, the hotel will be the biggest in Bulawayo as the city’s largest hotel, Bulawayo Rainbow has 180 rooms while another major hotel, Holiday Inn has 157 rooms.
Commenting on the construction of their hotel and convention centre, the ZITF Company chairman, Mr Busisa Moyo, said: “We are just in the prospects of getting that done. We’ll come to the market with fuller details at a later stage.”
In terms of the preparations for this year’s ZITF, he said: “We have got a lot of positive feedback from potential exhibitors and we are at 95 percent capacity at the moment but we will also have some that are last minute entries wanting to exhibit.”
The major highlights of the ZITF include the Zimbabwe International Business Conference, the official opening and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) business luncheon, as well as the ZITF Innovators Forum, ZITF Diplomats Forum, Bulawayo Agricultural Show, and the CZI/ZITF Indaba.