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Trade fairs a boon to local economy

Andreas Uutoni, Public Relations Officer of Ongwediva Town Council. (Photograph by Hilma Hashange)

Andreas Uutoni, Public Relations Officer of Ongwediva Town Council. (Photograph by Hilma Hashange)

“Trade fairs do not only benefit the host town but play an important role in creating benefits to the country as a whole.In terms of business, exhibitors contribute to the local economic basket and inject into the economy of the local business,” said Andreas Uutoni, Public Relations Officer of Ongwediva Town Council.
Uutoni said that trade fairs such as the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair (OATF) serve as a base for income generating opportunities by creating job opportunities to the local community.” This year alone, at least 350 direct jobs will be created during the OATF. Grade 12 learners will be temporarily employed as cashiers and supporting personnel,” he said.
According to Uutoni, the OATF serves as a platform for forming Public Private Partnerships and further create indirect job opportunities to small and medium enterprises. “ We source out all our services and contract local service providers for catering, security services, cleaning services, electrical maintenance work and so forth,” said Uutoni.
The OATF also creates a market for goods and services before, during and after the event.”Months before the actual event, many hotels and accommodation entities are always fully booked. Exhibitors travel extensively throughout the country and spend money when attending the OATF. We can almost conclude that many people now know about our country just by attending the OATF!
As in previous years, the OATF has this year attracted new international exhibitors. Out of the 26 confirmed international exhibitors, five are new exhibitors. According to Uutoni, a multi-sectoral approach was chosen to accommodate all types of exhibitors, both big and small.”This approach is very important because once you remove the other, you will not succeed,both form part and parcel of hosting a successful trade fair,” he said.
Visitors can look forward to new services and products at this year’s OATF. One highlight of the trade fair, according to Uutoni, is the helicopter rides that will be offered by Expedite Aviation which will fly visitors around to view the northern regions at a fee. Transnamib will also bring a mock train that will transport visitors around the trade fair centre. The Ministry of Home Affairs will also be issuing passports at the trade fair, which Uutoni said will only take two days to be finalised.
Also a first of its kind, a full scale agricultural show will be available at this year’s OATF and according to Uutoni, Meatco will be providing farmers with mobile exhibitor scrolls to exhibit their livestock for free. “The current drought has forced farmers to sell their livestock and we therefore encourage farmers to come and exhibit their livestock at no cost. A lot of farming materials will also be made available to them,” said Uutoni.
To provide a conducive environment for exhibitors and avoid problems,Uutoni said preparations for the OATF always commence the day after the end of the trade fair. He said the Preparatory Committee,of which he is part of, is made up of committed people who strive to bring a different trade fair every year. “We can call ourselves veterans in exhibitions, we have done a great job so far to create a base for exhibitors and have confidence that the OATF will always go forward,” said Uutoni confidently.

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