ZITF is more than an exhibition

Moyo said ZITF 2024 attracted 624 exhibitors. Of these 159 were new exhibitors and there were 26 new countries.

The 64th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) ended on Saturday in Bulawayo as the sought-after and go-to fair lived up to its billing by pulling in exhibitors.

Busisa Moyo, ZITF Company board chairperson, last week said 70 exhibitors had been turned away after the organisers ran out of space.

Moyo said ZITF 2024 attracted 624 exhibitors. Of these 159 were new exhibitors and there were 26 new countries.

Service providers such as hotels, lodges and transport operators, among others, are smiling “all the way to bank” after a windfall of visitors to Zimbabwe’s second largest city boosted the demand for their services.

Considering the spin-offs from the event, ZITF has become bigger and better each year, effectively outgrowing its parent ministry of Industry and Commerce. It requires all the support from various government arms and departments.

This is why we find it unfortunate that exhibitors had to endure a blackout. That area should have been ring-fenced. Exhibitors had to turn to generators which is an unnecessary expense and exposes fault lines at power utility, Zesa.

We also feel the organisers should have done better to accommodate the high number of exhibitors, instead of turning them away.

That the 64th edition would attract more exhibitors was expected after statistics by the ZITF Company showed that 98% of the exhibitors at last year’s edition would likely exhibit this year.

ZITF statistics also showed that 83% of the companies that exhibited last year were likely to recommend other companies to exhibit at ZITF 2024.

We believe forward planning is key for the growth of the fair.

We are, however, heartened by the planned US$300 million master plan which is set to revolutionise the existing premises into a “sustainable, world-class commercial precinct” that will have new hotels, convention centre, retail and leisure facilities.

Under the proposed plan, the new precinct will have a 5 000-seater convention centre, new 500-room hotel linked to the convention centre and a 5-star boutique hotel with facilities to host travelling heads of State and government and VIPs.

There will be a modern retail shopping centre, a themed park to celebrate the country’s diverse heritage and office parks, among others. 

The Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre will be renamed the Zimbabwe International Conference and Exhibition Smart City (ZICES).

“The unveiling of the new ZITF master plan and smart city represents a transformative moment for Bulawayo and underscores our commitment to driving sustainable growth and development in the region. By revitalising the ZICES, we aim to create a vibrant hub for commerce, hospitality and leisure, while also celebrating Zimbabwe’s cultural heritage,” Moyo said, adding that the projects may be structured through a public private partnership model to be supported by government through key investment incentives.

Such a grand plan must be actualised to make ZITF more than an exhibition. It has stood the test of time even in difficult times galvanising interest in destination Zimbabwe. This behoves all supporting agencies and departments to walk with ZITF Company and make ZITF the go-to exhibition on the continent. 


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