Five-day 'business only' rider at international trade fair upsets vendors

Five-day 'business only' rider at international trade fair upsets vendors

India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan

"We were not even aware that the first five days will be exclusive for the business visitors," said Mohammed Zaiuddin, a Bangladeshi trader of exotic heavy embroidery Zamdani silk saris and Dhakai silk.

"It is disappointing. We are here to sell our products to the public and not to sign business deals. So the first five days will be a non-event for us," Zaiuddin said, as the rush normally seen at the annual fair was visibly missing.

The India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), which organises the trade fair, decided to reserve the opening five days exclusively for business visitors with an entry fee of Rs.400 during these days. The entry fee for business visitors last year was Rs.200.

For the general public, entry will open only from Nov 19, with tickets for adults priced at Rs.30 on weekdays and Rs.60 on weekends -- an arrangement that has not gone down well with smaller exhibitors. Earlier, latter half of the day was open to public all days.

“There are people who don't want to spend this much. They shouldn't have done this. We are getting very little crowd. Fewer people are coming and this has affected our business by 50 percent,” explained a representative from Meer Designers of Karachi.

Otherwise, the fair has lots to offer: A wide range of textiles, semi-precious stones, jewellery, dry fruits, condiments, spices, traditional handicraft, household appliances, ready-to-eat food, carpets, electronic gadgets, sports goods -- and on and on.

"I have been coming here for more than five years. About 95 percent of our sales are to retail customers. But this year, for five whole days we will hardly have any major sales," said Siddiqui Rehman, another handicraft exhibitor from Bangladesh.

"This arrangement is good for the big business houses. But for small artisans it is not the right way. I hope that we are able to go back with some profit," added Babulal, a garment trader from Pakistan.
"Last year was good. We were able to register sales worth Rs.70,000-Rs.100,000 per day. But with reduced number of days for the general public, I don't know how sales are going to work out," Zaiuddin from Bangladesh lamented.

Added Kelly, an exhibitor from Thailand: “It is ridiculous. Look around and you will find there are not many takers -- mostly workers, security guards and few genuine people actually interested in buying.”
The organisers said the five days were reserved since the fair is both a business-to-business and business-to-consumer affair. "This measure will facilitate the transaction of business by trade visitors in comfort and convenience sans crowds."

Yet, there are some like Khoula Naeem, a dealer in ladies suit pieces from Karachi, who says if your product is good, people will come and buy it.
“I have no complaints. People are coming and buying. If your product is good then people will definitely come and buy. I have been exhibiting for seven years now and I have seen my business growing."