The Association of Local Authorities Namibia (ALAN) says it is engaging and negotiating with towns close to each other to combine trade fairs and expos, and to host them on an annual rotational basis. It has also recommended the introduction of regional fairs.
ALAN is concerned over the number of trade fairs and expos taking place around the country, citing complaints from sponsors, stakeholders and investors who claim too many fairs result in clashing schedules that inevitably inhibit growth.
ALAN is adamant that a consolidation of fairs will reduce costs and boost economic development, while enabling better planning for quality expos.
“Last year there was much hullabaloo about the increase in the number of expos and trade fairs. This year, the number has doubled, and more and new local authorities are now setting up plans for an exhibition,” said ALAN President, Councillor Leonard Jona.
He noted that between April and November 2015, nearly 30 local authorities hosted trade fairs which he said is choking exhibitors and sponsors who have to spend valuable time travelling to fairs and expos, while other events clash and present a dilemma of choice.
ALAN is in the process of scheduling meetings with the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development as well as MTC, which sponsors most fairs, to find common ground to maximise local economic development.
“As ALAN we believe trade shows and expos can lead to effective marketing and exposure for a company and its products if the event is successful. However, every organizer needs to properly plan and implement certain strategies in order to convert its presence at an expo into a means of effective marketing. To get the most out of exhibition attendance and business development, it is worth mentioning that ALAN will assist local authorities that will adopt our recommendations in setting specific targets to measure the success of the exhibitions,” said Jona.
Recently, MTC’s Manager for Sponsorships and Promotions, Joseph Mundjindi, urged local authorities to desist from hosting trade fairs on the same dates or within the same timeframe, saying this practice is counter-productive and has a negative bearing on potential investors and supporters at large.
“Over the years we have noticed a counter-productive trend of trade fair associations and local authorities regarding duplication and hosting of shows on dates that either clash or on consecutive weeks. Local authorities and trade societies seem to be in the business of outwitting and outmanoeuvering each other. This undertone competition does not augur well in the future as it has the tremendous ability to scare potential investors and supporters away – as they are forced to re-strategise and are forced to select which shows to attend owing to finances and resource allocation,” noted Mundjindi.