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Difficulties remain of course, but passenger traffic is rebounding in most regions and preliminary first-half sales figures are positive, an adjective that also applies to the third TFWA China’s Century Conference in early March, which got the year off to a flying start. Over 400 delegates from more than 200 companies met in Guangzhou to review the meteoric rise of the Chinese market and its outbound travellers. Like their customers, China’s travel retailers are keen to explore foreign shores, as underlined by China Duty Free Group’s international expansion plans revealed at the event.
Asian momentum has been crucial for the industry and remains so even as other regions regain speed. So it was encouraging to see another record turnout for the TFWA Asia Pacific Conference & Exhibition in May. Around one in every four exhibitors was new, a strong indicator of the region’s dynamism and the Conference draws ever greater numbers. The delegate conviviality index hit a new high at the networking programme’s Singapore Swing Party in Universal Studios.
2017 was a landmark year as the 70th anniversary of the first-ever airport duty free shop opening at Shannon in Ireland. To highlight duty free’s contribution to the travel industry and wider economy, TFWA launched a marketing campaign with a series of especially created visuals, each with a core message. Made available in several languages from July to industry stakeholders and business partners, the campaign has appeared at locations and in promotional material across Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Asia.
Probably the best indicator of duty free and travel retail’s state of health is its global summit in Cannes, TFWA World Exhibition & Conference. The 2017 edition in October showed the industry is in good shape. Visitor numbers rose 6% towards 7,000 while exhibitors were up 4.5% to more than 500, new records for both. New technology was a major theme this year, reflecting the growing enthusiasm for tools like artificial intelligence and virtual reality with their power to engage travellers. Central to this was the inaugural TFWA Digital Village, a technological showcase that ran alongside the Exhibition and Conference. Delegate feedback to the 30+ companies with stands was enthusiastic, opening the door to further such initiatives.
Shortly before the industry gathered in Cannes, TFWA announced changes to its management structure. The Association’s managing director since 2010, Alain Maingreaud, moved to a new part-time role as associate director. John Rimmer, previously conference, research and corporate affairs director, succeeded Alain as managing director from the start of October. TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen hailed Maingreaud for his contribution to TFWA’s success over two decades and welcomed Rimmer’s appointment as the start of an exciting new phase.
The Association’s charitable initiative, TFWA Care, committed a total of €500,000 to support thirteen good causes around the world in 2017. The focus was on humanitarian work that helps vulnerable people – women and children in particular – build better lives. Among the recipients were street children in Haiti, young girls living below the poverty line in Cambodia and villagers exposed to malnutrition and disease in Madagascar. Go online to tfwacare.com to find out more about the organisations that TFWA Care is assisting.