Confirming the development exclusively to The Standard, Alieu Secka, the chief executive officer of GCCI said it came due to the feedback from the general public.
“The theme, [Supporting Sustainable Businesses] arises from the need to continue providing the core objective of our services to the business community and particularly be mindful of the charges worldwide as well as in the region and The Gambia,” he said. “Since we started many years ago, it was 88 stalls to an increase of 270 stalls, that have seen a momentous growth, the numbers are increasing not only from the region but including all the Ecowas countries as far as Malaysia, Dubai, India etc and is becoming truly international as the name reflects, many vendors around the world are putting it in their calendar and we will continue to learn from the experiences that we have seen to make the fair more successful.”
Asked if the chamber could organise the fair in every six months instead of twelve, Mr Secka replied: “We have heard similar requests as well and we have noted them. Our role and responsibility is to be responsive to our members and the business community. What we have done in the past is to have Trade Fair International as well as having local Marche Jula. It will appear that more vendors are asking for two international trade fair so we will look into it and see how best we can accommodate their wishes.”
He disclosed that about 70 international participants or more took part but more people have been coming when they initially started.
Dismissing critisicm of the GCCI’s timing and selection of a date for the fair, he said: “Irrespective of the date you said, the public will have a different view, the board of directors of GCCI made a decision to have it after February. There are number of reasons; we had it in February to coordinate with the Ecowas calendar of trades, we got good feedback from The Gambia and some of the international vendors that they will rather have it in March, some in December so we collected all the information, analysed and eventually made a decision.”
Asked whether a MOU was signed with the vendors and that if there is no sale, a certain percentage will be refunded, Mr Secka said they would love to do that but organising a trade fair is expensive. “The cost of putting all those stalls cost hundreds of thousands of dalasi. We paid for the venue, services for cleaning, construction, security, electrical installation and etc,” he added.
Secka said they have intensified this year by making the fair a spectacular one with some Gambian musicians, adding that people are coming not just to buy but to be entertained. He called on the public to come and patronise the vendors.]]>