IITF 2016 registered  around fourteen lac visitors, including around 700 visitors from abroad. The number is definitely less compared to last edition where we had 18 lac visitors , even then we are quite happy as the footfall is counted without the kids as their entry was free and not counted unlike last edition”

TFT : Please highlight key points about the 36th India International Trade Fair (IITF) 2016?
Guna : There are 7000 on display, with 280 from 24 countries. This year ,the theme of the event is “Digital India” and to showcase the Digital Strength of the country- A dedicated “Digital India” pavilion is set by technology and power ministry of India.
The partner country is ‘South Korea’ and focus country is ‘Belarus.’ The partner state is ‘Madhya Pradesh’ & ‘Jharkhand’ and ‘Haryana’ is the focus state.
A lot of first time exhibitors have come to IITF from across the India and globe. Like Ministry of Tourism,Skill Development, Minorties, Panchayti Raj etc. There are none Pakistani Exhibitors against 140 companies in the last edition. There is a very good international surge in this edition compared to the previous year. Last year we hosted about 280 companies from abroad including 140 from Pakistan however, this edition it’s more than 280 companies without Pakistan. The geographic details include the participation from 27 provinces, 4 union territories and 24 countries.

TFT : What is the figure of the visitor footfall ?
Guna : Footfall is also very respectable. We have 14 lac visitors, including around 700 from overseas. It is less if we compare it from last year as we had 18 lakhs visitors in the last edition, but even then we are quite happy because this year the footfall is counted without the kids as their entry was free and the same was not facilitated last year. It implies that if we include children for this year the figure will go up.
IITF got some new features this year which included Online ticketing, Online reservation for the stall, The open WiFi facility,Complimentary pick-up and Drop-off for the visitors from the Pragati Maidan and Mandi House metro station, and special care for Senior Citizens.

TFT : As per the last year record with TFT, the online stall reservation happened last year too, (Initiated by the former ITPO CMD Rita Menon), second; Online ticketing were offered last year too. Third, visitors did not avail the shuttle service this year as claimed by you because there were no buses at pick up and drop off places, fourth; Student were offered free entry even last year and all youngsters (mentioned by you) are perhaps student ?
Guna : Last year people were able to avail the facilities only on business days, but this year general public is also availing the facilities.
Youngsters used to get free entry only when they in school uniform, but this year all of them under the age of 15 years are offered complementary entry. Last year the shuttle was operational every 20 minutes, this year one can fetch it in every 10 minutes. We have increased team size for the purpose , however, if you give me such a feedback then we will surely check the reason and take the necessary actions.

TFT : How did ITPO address demonetisation as that happened just before the event, and how much of that you were able to implement on ground ?
Guna :The Prime Minister announced the ban on old currency on 8th of November , next day ITPO Chairman called an immediate meeting of all stakeholders including the banks and exhibitors to discuss and suggest measures ? And then we communicated to all the exhibitors about how they can do electronic transaction rather than the cash transaction. SBI was contacted to setup helpline counter in Pragati Maidan to tie up with all the exhibitors and provide them the swipe machines. We also engaged mobile value added service providers like PAYTM, Freecharge etc. We called them after realizing that using a swipe machine requires a bank account, but a lot of exhibitors did not have the bank account. SBI then conducted a meeting with it’s director and decided to provide swipe machine even to the saving account holders. SBI did a wonderful job taking no time and we were able to facilitate online, swipe credit card and mobile transactions within four days.

TFT : While the efforts of ITPO is appreciated, many exhibitors told me even on the last day of the fair day that they are unable to avail this facility.
Guna : I reiterate that we commenced the service from the first day of the first day of the event itself.

TFT : But I met with exhibitors even on 18th November and they clearly denied having access to swipe machines?
Guna : On 14th November SBI got their Help Counter setup, Yes we tied up with only those directly associated with ITPO and not the exhibitors belonging to states. However, we communicated with all the state pavilions pavilion holder to contact the bank for electronic transactions. ITPO is a facilitator, not accountable for everything .I have highlighted what we were able to achieve. The specific purpose relationship was meant to be bank and exhibitors, not the bank and ITPO or ITPO and Exhibitors.

TFT : How many swipe machines were provided to exhibitors by SBI ?
Guna : Overall SBI could provide 300 swipe machines, PAYTM could facilitate more than 700 exhibitors their payment gateway is linked to Mobile phone. replying to your feedback ( of 18th November ), it happened because they did not have a bank account and hence they could not avail the facilities. That was the reason only 130 exhibitors ( out of total of 300) were able to obtain a swipe machine till 19th November.
(This means only about 1000 exhibitors out of 7000 were able to avail the Credit card/ Mobile transaction services. Only 300 could get a swipe machine).

TFT : So the crux is that majority of the exhibitors did not have the facility and hence, suffered ?
Guna : To an extend, the small enterprises were affected. As the cash is not transacted by companies. Big money transaction doesn’t occur here at IITF, yes snly small entrepreneur suffered, like NAMKEEN seller and those who come from the rural areas because they don’t hold a bank account and they have come precisely to earn some cash at IITF. This is the reason, that many exhibitors were accepting old currency as well.

TFT : The rumor is doing round that this is the last IITF at Pragati Maidan, Is this spread to increase the footfall or something else?
Guna : That is completely wrong. IITF will happen again and at Pragati Maidan. The Fair is not going to shut. May be that rumor is just a stunt for TRP gain. Even CMD has announced the theme of 2017 edition e.i. “Startup India”.

TFT : Is ITPO satisfied with footfall as exhibitors and visitors have a similar chord that both the business days or general days are not as same as before?
Guna : That happened due to naturural transformation. one of the reason is that IITF is now moving from B-C to B-B. All the new entrepreneurs coming here have focus on business on business and not retail. You can see also see that overseas exhibitors and business delegates are increasing gradually. So the event is attracting long term business and not just retail. Yes, retailing is going downward, but business is going upward and B2B profile is increasing, that could be one of the reasons of your feedback.

TFT : Does that mean ITPO is planning to convert IITF from B2C to B2B Event ?
Guna : We want IITF to be a place for B2B Event. But at the same time, primarily IITF remains a B2C event and should not loose its charm.

TFT : Few B2C elements such as entertainment has been brought down gradually. Earlier there were loads of talent activities(singing, dancing etc) , which is now missing ?
Guna : if the change was anything to do, the 14 Lac visitors would not have thronged to Pragati Maidan. The charm is there at IITF and remain here. The footfall is down only because nobody has cash in hand. Most of the exhibitors are happy, may be few of them are not IITF will go a long way.