The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
FOR the first time since the inception of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair 60 years ago, organisers have been forced to pitch tents to accommodate more exhibitors as the available space has been taken up for this year’s showcase.
This puts this year’s event that starts on Tuesday and ends on Saturday, as the biggest ever to be held in Bulawayo since 1959. The exhibition is running under the theme: “Propagating Industrial Growth through Trade and Investment.”
In an interview yesterday, ZITF Company chairperson Ms Ruth Ncube said all the space has been taken and the company had to pitch extra tents to accommodate more than 100 exhibitors.
She said: “The show is the biggest ever. We sold all possible space and for the first time in the history of ZITF we had to hire tents to accommodate 100 more exhibitors. This year we won’t be having VIP parking because we converted that space for extra exhibition space and the halls, which we haven’t been using for the last four to five years have been refurbished and converted to exhibition space.”
A trajectory graph depicting capacity utilisation at the exhibition centre, Sunday News is in possession of reveals that it has been on an upward trend over the last five years. The space being made available for sale rose from a low of 47 612 square metres in 2016 to a high of 57 732 square metres in 2019. The Government has also facilitated for the smooth holding of the event by availing fuel in Bulawayo. Fuel supplies in the city have since last week improved as the Government weighs in to ensure the international acclaimed exhibition is hosted without any mishap.
“We spoke to the Ministry of Energy (and Power Development) through our parent Ministry’s Minister (Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu) and he spoke to his counterpart that fuel supplies to Bulawayo should increase at least a week before ZITF to enable motorists to sufficiently refuel their vehicles and we are seeing tankers coming to Bulawayo in numbers. We want Bulawayo to be set abuzz. That’s how serious Bulawayo will be next week (this week),” said Ms Ncube.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is expected to officially open this year’s ZITF on Friday. By yesterday, a number of officials from different companies were making last minute arrangements to ensure that they are ready for the event. Among the first time exhibitors will be Belarus which is bringing in a number of companies as Zimbabwe and that country continue to improve their economic relations. The United States of America is returning to ZITF after a three-year absence. Other countries that have confirmed participation include Botswana, Ethiopia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Zambia.
Although all the city’s hotels and lodges were fully booked as of the beginning of the month alternative accommodation is still available at most plush suburbs.
“The accommodation, which is being offered by Bulawayo residents at their homes, is amazing. Of course people are complaining about the shortage of accommodation at hotels but there is no shortage of alternative accommodation in the city. Our partner, Ecological Safaris and Travel is assisting us to seek comfortable accommodation for visitors and we are looking forward to a number of home owners realising substantial revenue from letting out their rooms,” said Ms Ncube.