The decision to earmark the first five days of the India International Trade Fair exclusively for business visitors has left small vendors from many countries disappointed as they are hoping to sell their wares rather than strike large business deals.
"We were not even aware that the first five days will be exclusive for the business visitors," said Mohammed Zaiuddin, a Bangladeshi trader of exotic heavy embroidery Zamdani silk saris and Dhakai silk.
"It is disappointing. We are here to sell our products to the public and not to sign business deals. So the first five days will be a non-event for us," Zaiuddin told IANS, as the rush normally seen at the annual fair was visibly missing.
The India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), which organises the trade fair, had decided to reserve the first five days exclusively for business visitors with an entry fee of Rs 400 during these days.
For the general public, entry will be only from Nov 19, with tickets for adults priced at Rs 30 on weekdays and Rs 60 on weekends -- an arrangement that has not gone down well with smaller exhibitors.
On offer is a wide range of textiles, semi-precious stones and jewellery, dry fruits, condiments, spices, traditional handicrafts, household appliances, ready-to-eat food, carpets, electronic gadgets, sports goods -- and on and on.
"I have been coming here for more than five years. About 95 per cent of our sales are to retail customers. But this year, for five whole days we will hardly have any major sales," said Siddiqui Rehman, another handicraft exhibitor from Bangladesh.
"This arrangement is good for the big business houses. But for small artisans it is not the right way. I hope that we are able to go back with some profit," said Babulal, a garment trader from Pakistan.
"Last year was good. We were able to register sales worth Rs 70,000-Rs 100,000 per day. But with reduced number of days for the general public, I don't know how sales are going to work out," Zaiuddin from Bangladesh lamented.
The organisers said the five days were reserved since the fair is both a business-to-business and business-to-consumer affair. "This measure will facilitate the transaction of business by trade visitors in comfort and convenience sans crowds."