Norfolk Island expo canned
By Sally Gordon
The Clarence Valley's long-running Norfolk Island trade expo has been cancelled.
It will be the first time the annual Norfolk exhibition has not gone ahead since its inception 10 years ago.
The decision to can the expo has disappointed some Valley traders who agreed that maintaining regular contact with Norfolk residents was crucial for future trade links.
Clarence Valley Business Enterprise Centre chair Andrew Kelly yesterday confirmed there would be no Norfolk delegation this year because of a lack of numbers.
Mr Kelly said Clarence business operators did not receive the same response from Norfolk traders last year as they had in the past, which 'was a bit of a dampener'.
Clarence Valley Business Enterprise Centre CEO Henk van der Merwe reported that revenue from the 2004 expo totalled a staggering $3.4 million.
Holiday Coast Meat and Smallgoods owner Geoffrey Jones, who had been involved with the trade expo in the past, said the initiative was a great opportunity for businesses if they had something that was different or unique.
"As far as the expo went I thought it was a great opportunity," he said.
"I'm disappointed the businesses haven't pulled together and taken up this opportunity, because there was a lot of energy and organisation to first develop the expo over there and establish the links, which is important."
Mr Jones believes problems with Norfolk's travel and tourism industry had affected trade.
"It's not all on this side, there's problems over in Norfolk as well ... they have lost a lot of their flights, because services were withdrawn," he said.
"And they are not getting the volume of visitors there on the island."
Ray Hayes, from Hayes Stock Feeds in Grafton, went to the expo last year and said he didn't notice too much variation in customer response, as their business was not aimed at the tourism sector.
However, Mr Hayes said the Norfolk market had limited potential.
"At the end of the day we as retailers thought there was not a lot in it for what went over there, the market's not big enough, but in saying that, I wouldn't like to say those people aren't worth worrying about.
"There is more business to be done there, that's for sure."