Volcanic Ash Affects ZITF

Sources at the ZITF told Radio VOP that individual exhibitors from Germany, Britain, China and Iran had made last minute cancellation of their bookings due to the volcanic ash.

About 30 countries closed their airspace and some have extended flight bans indefinitely.

“ We have received e-mails from some exhibitors indicating that they are stranded at various airports in Europe. Although we really sympathise with them, this is a big loss to our organization. It’s now too late to rope in other exhibitors,” said a ZITF official who refused to be named.

The official said those affected mainly were exhibitors from European and Asian countries.

“ The tourism expo, A’ sambe Africa, which concurrently runs with the fair have also been affected. I still have to check with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) how exactly they have been affected as they are the ones who organises the expo,” said the official.

A’ sambe Africa is a multi-sectorial and mult-international trade exhibition, which targets among other groups hospitality players, tourism agents and airliners.

The city’s major hotels also confirmed cancelling bookings.

“ We have cancelled some bookings from clients in Germany but I am not sure if the cancellations are a result of the volcanic ash which you are talking about. Please if you want more information call  our headoffice,”said a worker at Crest Churchill ‘s reservation office.

A total of 750 companies and organisations have confirmed their participation at this year’s trade fair.

Iranian, president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to open the trade fair on Friday. Ahmadinejad, is the first president outside Africa to officially open the annual trade expo. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, has described his invitation to Zimbabwe, as a “political scandal” because of his record of dictatorship.

About 40 countries from Iran are also expected to exhibit at the fair.