MUCH POLITICS AND LESS BUSINESS AT THE SPRING FAIR
The international fair in Plovdiv is a good place for doing business. Apart from businessmen, politicians know it now, too. The spring exhibition of consumer goods and technologies appeared a well-timed PR opportunity and a convenient tribune for sending messages to the electorate represented by participants and visitors. There have never been so many governmental representatives to the fair in the past. The exhibition was opened by the Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on May 9, Europe's Day. Milko Kovachev, Minister of Economy, and Meglena Kouneva, Minister of European Affairs, greeted the guests, too. But they were not the only government officials there - the Finance Minister Milen Velchev, the Social Minister Hristina Hristova, as well as the former president of the country Peter Stoyanov were noticed at the tribune, too. All politicians representing the ruling majority underlined they were satisfied with the changes in the economic climate and did not miss the chance to note that it was the incumbent Government to be given credit for that. The opening speech of the Prime Minister contained direct political campaigning: I will assure you that we're not going to slow down and will work in the same direction, because we all know that the greater the effort, the more positive changes people can feel. The Prime Minister also said that he would keep seeking honesty, freedom and stability for the entrepreneurs. I'm sure that this is the modern and successful economic policy that we need to develop, he said. When opening the municipalities business forum, the Prime Minister also praised the mayors by saying they all met him with excellent results in terms of financial stability. You know that the Government did a lot in that aspect in order to support the mayors' work without making any difference among them. That policy is part of our understanding that central and municipal authorities must operate in harmony in order to have concrete results towards improving the people's life and the image of our municipalities, the Prime Minister underlined.After the politicians went over the chambers and the exhibitors were given promises for support and pictures with famous political figures, the Spring Fair began. There are 1,330 companies from 40 countries taking part in it this year - 739 Bulgarian and 593 foreign ones. It's impressive that producers are more numerous than traders and distributors now, the executive director of the fair Yordan Radev said. There were innovations everywhere in the fair houses. For example, curious healthful food series, mirror cakes, peanut cream and butter, brine-packed cheese, etc. were exposed there for the first time. Furniture produced in Bulgarian prisons attracted the visitors, too. In turn, the National Centre for Social Rehabilitation showed a small electric car driven by mouth. However, there were also negative opinions. There were visitors who repeated that the fair was quite poor. These are usually comments that do not take into account the ordinary indicators for a fair's efficiency. When it comes to consumer goods, the presentation of more than 1,300 companies cannot be defined as poor. A confirmation to that statement is a sociological study conducted by Alpha Research among the exhibitors and the visitors of the Spring Fair. According to the intermediate data, more than a half of the inquired businessmen (53%) expose at the spring fair traditionally, and 47% of them admit they are participating for the first time. 74% of the entrepreneurs are satisfied with the exhibition, while 36% of them hope to sign successful deals during and after the event. 56% of the company owners say they take part because of the business contacts they will establish, and 54% of them think their presence at the forum will have a positive effect on their business. The fair was mainly visited by residents of other towns (76%). Another curious fact is that 88% of the inquired say they visit the spring fair regularly.