Exhibitors at the just-ended Grand Sales Bazaar at the Ghana International Trade Fair Centre have expressed disappointment at the poor publicity and low patronage of the 11-day event.
In separate interviews with the Daily Graphic at the fair grounds yesterday, some of the exhibitors expressed their displeasure with the entire fair, which opened on September 27, 2018 and ended yesterday.
They claimed that although the fair organisers, the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited, claimed to have reduced the price of the stands, the cost was still high.
According to the organisers, the fair attracted more than 500 local and international exhibitors.
It created a platform for large, medium and small-scale industries to showcase their products and also for them to offload their old stock and restock in preparation for Christmas.
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An exhibitor, Mrs Mavis Greene, attributed the low turnout to the lack of advertisement by the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited, saying there were no advertising billboards around the city and in the regions, and there was not much publicity on radio or television.
She said the fair used to be organised in June and July but this year it was organised in September and October.
“This time of the year is not the best. In September, parents do not have enough disposal income to spend on shopping because they have to pay school fees, buy books and other educational materials for their wards. The organisers have to consider going back to the old date,” said Mrs Greene.
“We have paid money for our exhibition tents but we could not make enough sales to cover the cost of the tents, our transportation and accommodation as I came from Mankessim in the Central Region,” she said.
A Togolese footwear exhibitor, Mr Logossou Kodjo, who said it was his fourth time of participating in the Grand Sales, said: “I am disappointed. I came with high hopes to market my goods, create contacts and link up with both Ghanaian and some international customers but unfortunately things did not go as I had expected.”
“This year is the worst of all the four times I have been here. The people who visited the fair and came into the pavilion were not many and even the few who came just passed by without stopping to have a look or buy. It is very bad,” he added.
An exhibitor from The Gambia, Ms Rohey Conteh Baldeh, said she was happy with the revival of the fair although patronage was low.
“Sales was not the best but we know it will get better with time. We have through our regular participation gained the loyalty of some customers who contact us periodically for women, men and children’s wears which are of unique designs,” she said.
An exhibitor from Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, Mr Patrick Akanlarike Abonaam, who had displayed his smocks, hand-woven bags and other female and male handmade attire, said “the fair lacked some spark, it was not explosive and mind-blowing as one would have expected”.
He suggested that the organisers should go back to the strategy of incorporating cultural displays, musical and fashion shows and advertising months ahead of the main event.
When contacted, the Head of Marketing and Public Relations at the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited, Mr Oscar Asamoah Boateng, said “patronage was generally good”.
He explained that the fair was scheduled for September due to the ban on drumming and agreed that during this time, it was difficult for people to make purchases as their children were going back to school and did not have much disposable income to spend.
On the way forward, he said a committee made up of the heads of research, marketing, audit and estate units of the company would review the fair.
“We administered questionnaires and through that we will receive feedback on the fair. We will review it and then decide whether to go back to June-July, maintain September or do something different to promote the fair,” he said.