Where have the crowds gone, wonder foreign exhibitors

Thursday, 20 November 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Where have the humongous crowds witnessed last year at the India International Trade Fair (IITF) gone, many foreign exhibitors are wondering this time.

Spread over two cavernous pavilions, exhibitors from 27 countries are among 7,500 participants at the ongoing fortnight-long IITF, rated as the biggest in South Asia.

Though the air is festive and sizeable crowds are visible at the fair ground even during business hours in the mornings, foreign exhibitors say the visitor turnout is much lower than last year.

More importantly, while some exhibitors are continuing to enjoy brisk sales like in previous years, they too say the response is much lower than last year.

The Chinese stalls that last year witnessed teeming, and at times unmanageable, crowds are by and large trouble-free this time, though some are upset that casual visitors are far in excess of serious trade visitors.

"The problem this time is not many are aware that like last year there is large Chinese participation. With the fair authorities having restricted the entry to only pass holders from gates near the foreign pavilions, the response is much lower," said Mendy Liu, general manager of Zhuhai Sharp-Group Enterprise Co Ltd.

"To restrict entry to only serious trade enquiries some of the exhibitors have had to put a string across the entrance. The response from trade is a little slow this time, probably as not many are aware that foreign participations, particularly Chinese, are spread over more than one pavilion," Mendy told IANS.

Over 100 Chinese exhibitors are participating in the IITF this time under various delegations. Whether household gadgets or motorbikes, the Chinese are keen to step up their profile in the Indian market, but are still waiting for good business enquiries.

"This mixing of Indian and international exhibitors in one pavilion has put us at a disadvantage," felt Atul Kumar Saxena, managing director of Aum Imexco (India) Ltd and India representative of the Omani Centre for Investment Promotion and Export Development (OCIPED).

Low media coverage and restriction of ticket sales to just a couple of gates at the Pragati Maidan fairground are proving a damper, feel the foreign exhibitors.

"Though the response is good, it is not like last time when it became difficult to handle customers," said Hamid Ahmadi, president of Aisan Trading of Iran, which specialises in eye-catching traditional handcrafted and hand-painted lamps.

In the expectation of similar crowds like last time, Ahmadi set up two stalls this year but customers seem to be coming in smaller numbers. Last year, Ahmadi had sold out his lamps much before the last day of the fair.

Whether it is the Chinese, Pakistanis, Iranians, or the Thai, barring a few stalls most have reported much lower visitor turnout than expected.

But with another week to go, there is still optimism that more business will be transacted.

Besides, not all exhibitors are entertaining retail sales, as they are more keen to find large volumes through Indian importers and representatives.
Source: IANS
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