Vendors at a four-day trade fair on Diamond Island yesterday said there had been a decline in buyers to the exhibition due to the notoriety of November’s bridge disaster.
While there were some 326 stalls occupied by vendors at the Ministry of Commerce-backed annual Import-Export and One Province One Product exhibition – an increase on last year’s 200 booths – the number of visitors were on the downswing, according to many.
Phun Saly, deputy head of a palm sugar processing enterprise in the San Tuk district of Kampong Thom said many had brought items such as food, bedding, and souvenirs to sell, but there were few who came to buy.
“Not many people have come, because the accident seems fresh,” she said yesterday on the first day of the exhibition, which is slated to wrap up on December 18.
Sroin Kimsroy, a vendor of local foods from Banteay Meanchey province, said he had initially thought to stay away from the event because some people had still not recovered from the shock of the catastrophe.
“I was worried. I thought I would not be able to take part, but later I realised the organisers were being very careful,” he said.
Acting Minister of Commerce Kem Sithan said the exhibition consisted of 244 companies, and was anticipated to attract between 60,000 and 100,000 visitors, but did not directly discuss whether people were staying away from the exhibition due to last month’s tragedy.
“I think we have prepared smoothly,” he said at yesterday’s fair.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon said he had observed increased progress with the event from year to year after touring the stalls yesterday.
“From day to day, [the number of] Cambodian products have increased,” he said.
He added the exhibition served as a platform for businessmen to meet each other.
Last month more than 100 vendors at the Diamond Island night market requested the landlord to suspend rent for the next three months. Some cited up to a 90 percent drop in customers since the bridge stampede on November 22 which killed over 350 people.