For several months, the quarterly financial reports of airlines, hotel chains or any business linked to international travel have made difficult reading. Travel retailers and the brands they offer have suffered similarly, but lately there is a more confident, forward-looking mood in some boardrooms.
Alongside a double-digit sales decline in Dufry’s Q1 update, the Group CEO highlighted a location-specific recovery plan with accompanying promotional initiatives and said the retailer is “ready to resume operations as soon as travel restrictions are lifted”.
His counterpart at Estée Lauder also endured a challenging first quarter but revealed the company’s duty free and travel retail sales actually rose modestly. Although fewer outlets were open, he believed a less-crowded store environment explained the stronger conversion rates recorded.
One of several high-performing locations mentioned by Estée Lauder is Hainan Island, where China Duty Free Group’s already buoyant sales will be further boosted by a new scheme giving visitors from the mainland 180 days after their trip to use any unspent duty free allowance online, with the goods sent to their home address.
Shiseido, a leading beauty brand in Asia and beyond with a strong duty free and travel retail presence, has announced plans to expand into Sri Lanka through a new partnership with omnichannel distributor Luxasia.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore is allowing travellers to transit through Changi Airport from 2 June. They will be restricted to designated areas and airport staff will wear protective equipment, but this is a significant step for one of Asia’s main hubs.
Two European airports are reopening for business. Lithuania’s Vilnius International Airport welcomed its first post-pandemic passengers on 13 May, while Riga International Airport in Latvia resumed operations on 18 May with airBaltic flights to four north-European destinations.