Guyexpo needs to be much better organized long in advance for it to fulfil its purpose

Dear Editor,

Guyexpo is now touted to be Guyana and the Caribbean’s premier trade fair and exposition. Some time ago it was promoted as the Caribbean’s largest. Are these claims really true? The Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce needs to attend other regional expos in Jamaica, Trinidad, Suriname and Dominica Republic to learn about expos and trade fairs and then to shout or shut up about Guyexpo being the premier trade fair of the Caribbean.

At the moment Guyexpo is being publicly advertized on billboards and by official Guyexpo letterheads for September 29-October 4. This is misleading since sponsorship letters and Guyexpo Magazine ad solicitation letters indicate that Guyexpo is to be held from September 29-October 2, 2011. This is a shame for a National Expo. The golden rule is to always get your event dates right for a ‘premier expo’ and  let the business community know at least four to six months in advance so that we can plan and budget for it. Why is Guyexpo being silently organized as if it’s a secret or as if it is really not going to happen? As a matter of fact Guyexpo has not been officially launched to inform the public and serious businesses about what it ‘promises’ to be this year if it will be held at all.

Well my expectations are that Guyexpo will be better than Femination, Berbice Expo and Building Expo in class, style, quality, focus, appearance, organization, exhibits, safety and crowd control. Building Expo was a ‘wow‘ and it had a focus.

As a businessman I wish that Guyexpo would be more focused on its original purpose to promote Brand Guyana and its entrepreneurs, rather than to promote the products of Trinidad, Suriname, India, USA, China, Japan, etc. And whatever happened to the tourism sector presence at Guyexpo? Why aren’t THAG members out there showcasing Guyana’s beauty and encouraging and promoting tours? The Ministry of Tourism doesn’t sell anything so why not have the private sector tourism businesses at Guyexpo? Guyexpo is more of a consumer and sales show with a lot of noise, heat, litter, confusion, cramped space, pick-pockets, traffic congestion, ticket sales confusion, vendors, sloppy exhibits and stands and stinky toilets. Guyexpo is a lime with a heavy focus on alcohol sales and drinking, partying and music. What an expo!

Where is the space for businesses to conduct business, to network with other businesses, to sign deals, etc? How will we improve Guyana’s growth and competitiveness when foreign buyers and markets are not invited or present at Guyexpo? The theme is a joke and I hope that Guyanese businesses, entrepreneurs and all those who visit Guyexpo will learn and arm themselves with the knowledge of how we can ‘enhance growth through competitiveness.‘ My company will want to register for the seminars and workshops on how to enhance growth through competitiveness and at least to go away with a few tips on how to compete and the plans the Ministry of Tourism has to make our businesses more competitive.
They should pre-sell tickets and avoid all the confusion and sweat and wasted time This is 2011 –  learn from Hits and Jams and pre-sell tickets. Booth space is ridiculously priced and small. What are the Minister and the government doing with the millions of $$$ they get from ticket sales, booth space and sponsorship? Why cram 100 booths in a small area and have narrow passageways for visitors?

Have a bigger space for exhibitors. Improve the quality of exhibitors; let Guyexpo showcase the best quality locally produced goods and services. Agriculture, forestry, mining, tourism, manufacturing and craft production should feature prominently. Guyexpo should be trade or business oriented – invite and host large trade delegations from the Caribbean and South America so that buyers can be in contact with sellers and Guyana’s competitiveness and exports could increase and improve. There was a large delegation from Trinidad at the Building Expo. Announce Guyexpo 2012 early so that businesses and foreign markets can plan and budget. Like the Minister of Commerce’s colleague Minister Irfaan Ali, have wide aisles and space, and quality, impressive exhibits and displays. Take Guyexpo to the next level. But the ministry is late now as always.

Surely, a country cannot organize its national expo like this. It’s a disgrace. It would be best if the Private Sector Commission, Guyana Manufacturers Association and the Chambers of Commerce organized Guyexpo rather than the Ministry of Tourism, Industry & Commerce. Minister Manniram Prashad should go to expos and learn and make Guyexpo better.

What physical and infrastructural improvements have been made to the exhibition site over the years? The centre should be on show all year, after all it’s an exhibition centre. What are the Guyexpo and National Exhibition Centre staff doing all year? The annex and auditorium structures along with all the other exhibition space and facilities should be modernized and equipped with modern technology befitting a professional exhibition centre. The general landscaping and maintenance of the compound is poor.

Expos cannot be held at the last minute. Didn’t the Minister know one year ago that Guyexpo will be held in 2011? How can we ‘enhance growth through competitiveness’ when we cannot on a national scale plan for Guyexpo? I hope that we will have an expo which will be the pride of Guyana and the Caribbean.

Yours faithfully,
J Narine

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