Zimbabwe International Trade Fair 2021: COVID-19 Reshaping Everything

The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) kicked off on Wednesday on a “low note” as most exhibitors were still to set up their stands, many of them affected by a late decision to run the exhibition after the lockdown was reduced to level 2.

Some stands were unoccupied while others were still closed, meaning the companies were not taking part.

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Only 25% of Bulawayo companies are exhibiting at the fair, demonstrating just how hard the pandemic has hit the remaining firms in a city once touted as Zimbabwe’s industrial hub.

Those present include the National Railways of Zimbabwe and Boustead Beef, which has failed to reopen the Cold Storage Company, another indication that the economic situation remains tricky.

That is not all, even South Africa — Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner — did not take up large exhibition space this year.

China, too, which has for years dominated the ZITF, occupying large exhibition spaces, seemingly has a lowkey representation.

Only 10 countries, namely Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania, are participating but on a smaller scale.

In 2019, the exhibition attracted 17 countries.

These developments indicate how the COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping everything, including the future of major exhibitions.

With the pandemic likely to be gripping the world for some time, the rate at which physical exhibitions will be held will remain subdued.

Under the circumstances, tech-based marketing and campaigns will be key to complementing reduced physical exhibitions.

This is likely to be the new normal until economies reopen as the pandemic fizzles out.

Last year’s hard lockdowns forced authorities to call off the important trade showcase for the first time.

For Zimbabwe, however, the spirited efforts made to ensure the holding of this year’s edition of ZITF is a good start in the country’s drive to rebuild the economy.

More: NewsDay Zimbabwe

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