Reflecting today’s digitally-inclined global traveller, TFWA began 2018 by extending its social media footprint beyond LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. January saw the launch of an official Instagram account under the handle ‘TFWAnews’, followed in March by a presence on the Chinese platform WeChat, which has over 1 billion monthly active users in the industry’s most influential market.
May brought the 23rd edition of TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference in Singapore. Much like the region’s flourishing duty free and travel retail business, the summit itself was a bustling, lively affair that set new records for exhibitors, visitors and the 10,505 square metres of floorspace occupied by the Exhibition. Almost 1,400 delegates attended the Conference morning plenary session to hear Siri co-founder Adam Cheyer and Shivvy Jervis, the futurist, writer and broadcaster, discuss how artificial intelligence and other technologies can benefit brands and travellers.
TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen announced in June that he would not stand for re-election when his term of office finished at the year-end. A co-founder of TFWA in 1984, the Dane has served as the Association’s President since 1999.
TFWA Care, launched in 2005, is the Association’s humanitarian initiative to help vulnerable people – especially women and children – build better lives. The 14 organisations that members chose to support for 2018 were announced in July. Six were new and their work includes eradicating child labour in Bangalore, using sport to help people with disabilities in Cambodia and promoting education in Haiti.
The industry’s global gathering, TFWA World Exhibition & Conference, took place under sunny Cannes skies at the end of September. The warm weather boosted participation in the opening Sunday’s leisure activities. Visitor numbers exceeded 7,000 for the first time in the Palais des Festivals. Exhibitors were also at a new high, and TFWA Digital Village, making its second appearance, attracted strong interest. Launched to coincide with Cannes, the new TFWA App was downloaded by around 4,000 delegates. And to complete an action-packed week, elections gave the Association a new Board and Management Committee for the next two years.
The Middle East and Africa took centre stage in November with the MEADFA Conference. Held in Beirut, the two-day event was one of the most successful to date thanks to generous Lebanese hospitality and enthusiastic industry support, with 442 delegates attending. This was actually 2018’s second MEADFA engagement. The previous Conference, scheduled for Beirut in late 2017, was moved to January 2018 in Dubai because of security concerns. Such a positive return to the Lebanese capital in November was therefore doubly pleasing.
December not only brought the end of the year but of an era, too. Erik Juul-Mortensen’s decision to step down after nearly two decades at the helm of TFWA meant the Presidential election on 14 December would give the Association a new head. At their meeting in Paris, members of the Management Committee have chosen Alain Maingreaud as TFWA President for the next 12 months, marking a new departure for the Association and its members.