By Bulawayo Correspondent
THE 61st edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) kicked off today (Tuesday) after a one year hiatus due to Covid-19 outbreak.
The annual trade showcase was last year postponed twice before finally suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
New Zimbabwe.Com Monday visited the exhibition centre and witnessed several both international and local exhibitors mounting their exhibition stands ahead of the commencement of the fair today.
Unlike the previous years this year’s fair is being held under strict Covid-19 health protocols with only a limited number of delegates allowed. Children under the age of 18 will not be allowed at the fair.
“We are expecting our products to arrive anytime today (Monday) from Harare so that we can display them. Normally, we mount our stand a week before the trade fair but this time around, we faced numerous challenges associated with Covid-19,” said one of the workers who was sprucing up a stand in Hall Four.
The situation was almost similar with most stands in the hall.
Some exhibitors who spoke to this publication expressed concern over astronomic prices of accommodation and other services in the city.
Some leading Bulawayo hotels and lodges have reportedly increased their rates by as much as 100 percent ahead of the trade showcase.
“It seems most of the hotels and lodges are taking advantage of ZITF to increase fares. About two weeks ago, I paid US$ 90 bed and breakfast at a local hotel but yesterday I was told to pay US$ 180 for the same services. Hoteliers should understand everyone is reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and some of us have sacrificed to exhibit because honestly there no much business to generate here,” said Washington Takaringofa, a manager of a Harare based solar equipment manufacturing company.
A survey carried by this publication also revealed that all the major hotels and lodges in the city are already fully booked for the premier trade.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to officially open the trade fair which runs under the theme, “Showcasing the New Normal for Business and Industry: Realities and opportunities”
Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania have all confirmed their participation at this year’s event. A total of 357 direct exhibitors are participating at this year‘s edition.
In 2019, the ZITF had 486 direct exhibitors and 17 countries.