Exhibitors at the 2009 PANAFEST Expo/Bazaar at the Jubilee (Victoria) Park in Cape Coast have complained about low sales and attributed this to low publicity given to the event this year.
The exhibitors, who also blamed the organisers for poor organisation, claimed that they would not be able to re-coup the money they paid as fees for their participation and vowed never to participate in the event again should the trend continue.
The exhibitors, who expressed these sentiments in interviews with the GNA, said they paid GH¢280.00 for double stands and GH¢140.00 for single stands to mount their wares.
PANAFEST, which is a bi-annual event, is this year being celebrated under the theme “Uniting the African family: communicating the African reality”.
Mohammed Suleman, a Ghanaian who is selling wood carvings, said “I paid GH¢280.00 and incurred an additional cost to transport my wares here but I doubt if I can even sell to meet the cost before PANAFEST ends on Saturday”.
He criticised the organisers for not encouraging tourists to visit the exhibition grounds to patronise their goods after they had visited the Cape Coast Castle, adding that all attempts to get them to address their grievances have failed.
“After paying so much, the organisers have not even provided any temporary structures for us to take our bath and the toilet facilities provided are nothing to write home about”, he said.
Mr Suleman said local people were patronising the event more than foreign tourists and that the situation had compelled he and his colleague exhibitors to reduce the prices of their wares in order to make some sales.
Mr Michael Agyapong, also an exhibitor of wood carvings, said “I came all the way from the Northern Region to display my wares but I am disappointed in the organizers.”
He was of the view that entrance to the exhibition grounds should have been free and that the entrance fee of one Ghana cedi being charged may also be a factor for the low patronage.
“How do you expect someone to pay money before coming in to buy a product?” he queried, adding “this gate fee matter must stop”.
A Nigerian exhibitor, Mr Eddie Adeniran who deals in African fabrics and carvings, and who is participating in the expo for the fourth time, said PANAFEST had been organised better in previous years.
He said although sales are low this year, he was not much disturbed and expressed the hope to use the event to learn from the experience and expertise of other exhibitors.
Another exhibitor who pleaded anonymity, said “sales are very terrible. I have not sold a single item since I came here. I work for a non-governmental organisation and we participated in this event to sell beads to raise funds, but I doubt if we can make any headway.”
A foreign tourist at the exhibition grounds, Ms Leah Jeftha, told the GNA that a friend informed her about the event and wondered why there has not been adequate publicity to attract more tourists.
Some residents that the GNA talked to did not seem concerned about the festival, while others said they would patronise the bazaar in the evenings.
Mr Pee Stone, a painter, said he was aware of the programme but said he did not think PANAFEST was of benefit to him.