By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
No fever than 100 vendors with branded products and services are jostling for space at the maiden edition of the Tropicana Trade Fair in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State with a focus on entrepreneurship development.
The fair which would last for one week, is in collaboration with the Management of Tropicana Mall, Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation and the Ministry of Trade and Investments, was declared open on Friday.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Commissioner, Ministry of Trade and Investments, Mr Camilus Umo, who declared the Fair open said, it was a marketing opportunity and potential for Akwa Ibom people to buy and sell, and make Akwa Ibom their brand.
“Akwa Ibom is sitting on rubies. What we are seeing is seeming teething problem that gives the impetus why this trade fair is held. This trade fair is held as an incentive to increase human traffic into Tropicana; to incentify the marketing opportunities and potentials in Akwa Ibom, especially Uyo; to elevate, multiply and scale up the marketing level, buying power of the average Akwa Ibomite, to make Akwa Ibom their brand.
“I commend the management for taking the bold step to put up what we see in other climes. The journey of a thousand miles starts in a day, don’t in any way be daunted. Thumps up your chest that you are a trail blazer. That is what makes us who we are, that people had to set the trail, break the glass and open up the glass ceiling so that others would become a part of this.
“Whether you like it or not, there is already an expectation for edition two, and edition two can only get better than this. Only in a few places can you have a government intervention, equity and interest in a mole of this nature, and it is an intentional act to show that it can happen; to galvanise the activities of the commercial phase that this can happen in Uyo.
“Whether you like it or not, next year, people will book a calendar that Tropicana Fair is something to watch out for,” he stated.
The Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Investments Corporation (AKICorp), Dr Elijah Akpan said Tropicana Mall can compete with any mall in the world, adding, “the mall has encouraged a lot of tourism, many people have come because of the mall. We will continue to do our best to maintain the mall and keep it for everyone to do business.
Also speaking, one of the organisers of the Fair, Mrs Aniekan Essienette, General Manager, Marketing and Communication, Ibom Air, said the fair would exploit the potentials that lay untapped in the state, and open up the state to commerce.
Essienette said brands ranging from electronics, fashions, education, accessories, games, adult and children wares etc. would be on display during the period, disclosed that the concept of the fair was initiated during the third anniversary of Ibom Air.
“Akwa Ibom state is just a Diamond in the rough and we have to put that diamond to the world. This is what is happening in other climes and why are we not doing it and doing it better. The second edition is going to be turbo charged.
“I want you all to patronize the vendors here and we are opening up the state to commerce. We have a couple of brands: we have the fashion, accessories, games, kiddies, children cloths and hairs. It ties us to what we want to achieve that we don’t have to wait till summer before we start shopping for our families for christmans.
“It gives Akwa Ibomite the opportunity to be closer to the market and get their Christmas shopping done at a discount. That is the purpose of putting up this fare, so you don’t need to travel far to get your things for the family.
“On economic impact, most of the products are sold quicker than when they were in their normal place or space. We have created the right ambience for people who come to shop. The economic benefits are high,” she stated.
Convener, Uyo Fashion Week, May Edmund explained that Akwa Ibom is a brand that the people are proud of, adding that the fair was an encouragement to entrepreneurs and called on the people to do more, sell something, no matter how small and see it grow.
“We encourage the entrepreneurs; this fare is giving them the enabling environment and a lot of exposure. If you are not originally in the mall, you are somewhere, the mall has a lot of foot traffic even after the five days in the fair, your customers will look for you. I’m happy the fair is happening on black friday,” she noted.
New Nigerian Newspapers in Uyo observed that the Fair held at a clean and serene environment gave opportunity to both participants and customers to explore exciting variation, lifestyles, electronics, fashions and more.