The TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference made a welcome return in 2023 after four long years of absence – a period in which the world has undergone profound change. The opening Conference explored some of those changes thanks to a range of speakers from within and beyond our industry, who shared insights on the future for travel and related sectors in Asia Pacific.
The conference sessions provided perspectives on the geopolitical and economic forces shaping the business landscape in Asia Pacific; the readiness of our industry to respond to the booming demand for international travel; air traffic forecasts and travel trends; and the emergence of a new generation of shoppers post-pandemic. Access to the Conference was free for all registered badge-holders.
TFWA would like to thank the sponsors of the 2023 Conference: official Host Changi Airport Group, Diamond Sponsor China Duty Free Group; and platinum sponsors Dufry and Mondelez World Travel Retail.
The Conference took place in the Grand Ballroom on Level 5 of the Marina Bay Sands Conference & Expo Centre.
TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen shared his thoughts on the outlook for Asia Pacific travel retail as international travel recommences and the market looks to the future.
Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association President Sunil Tuli updated Conference delegates on the work being done on their behalf across the region.
The world’s leading travel retailer by sales, China Duty Free Group will have a pivotal role to play in the regional recovery. The company’s new Executive Vice President Luke Chang added his welcome to delegates at the start of a busy business week in Singapore.
Asia Pacific is at a crossroads. Against a backdrop of geopolitical competition and a global economic slowdown, the region is facing near-term challenges that will define the business environment over the coming years. The opening session of the TFWA Asia Pacific Conference explored issues including intra-regional trade, relations between the major economic powers, the role and influence of China, and the importance of travel & tourism to the region, courtesy of one of Singapore’s most respected statesmen and business leaders – the country’s former Foreign Minister and 2023 keynote speaker George Yeo.
After a year in which international travel in Asia Pacific continued to lag behind the rest of the world, signs for 2023 are much more positive. A significant increase in short- and long-haul travel within, to and from Asia is under way: but after three long years, is our industry ready? To ensure a fresh start and durable growth, what changes need to be made to infrastructure, business practices, product range and the contract model? And how are changes to customer profiles and behaviour shaping the approach of brands and retailers in the post-pandemic world?
This session heard from a panel of regional industry leaders on how they are preparing their businesses for the recovery: Luke Chang, Executive Vice President, China Duty Free Group; Freda Cheung, President and CEO Asia Pacific, Dufry; Sue Kyung Lee, CEO, SK II; Thabet Musleh, Vice President, Qatar Duty Free; and Marvin von Plato, CEO, Heinemann Asia Pacific.
The general outlook for air travel in Asia Pacific in 2023 has become more positive since the reopening of China’s borders to international travel. Most regional travel associations and carriers are predicting traffic volumes to return closer to pre-pandemic levels, despite economic and geopolitical headwinds. To give a forecast of what is in the horizon, this session heard from ACI Asia Pacific Director General Stefano Baronci and OAG Aviation Head of Asia and PATA Executive Board Member Mayur Patel on the region’s travel outlook with an eye on emerging destinations, the preferences of younger travellers, and the future of post-Covid travel.
Attention is still the most valuable commodity in any business. Today, each cohort of consumers are more demanding and forthright than ever. From baby boomers to Gen Zs, vying for time and capturing the attention is crucial for retailers and brands alike in this connected world. With travel gradually picking up in the region, is the travel retail industry ready to meet new customer expectations?
The final session in this year’s Conference examined new emerging destinations, shopping preferences and the influence of social media in purchasing decisions. Delegates heard the latest shopper trends and data from Pi Insight’s Global Shopper Series courtesy of Managing Director Stephen Hillam. The session also explored the growing importance of social media and digital marketing with Emerging Communication’s Head of Planning Rocky Chi.
Providing perspectives from the brand community were Puig Global Travel Retail Executive Vice President Kaatje Noens, Mars International Travel Retail Global Sales Director Marcus Hudson and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) Global Travel Retail General Manager Claudio Ferreira, who shared insights on how brands are finding innovative ways to engage an increasingly demanding and sophisticated travelling consumer.
The APTRA Exchange seminar took place during the afternoon of Monday May 8 and was free to all registered TFWA badge-holders. Designed to complement the TFWA Asia Pacific Conference held during the morning, the APTRA Exchange brought together three speakers who presented a future-forward perspective of the opportunities ahead in Asia Pacific, now that the region has fully re-opened and the industry is on a trajectory to full recovery.
Business conditions in 2023 are set to be much brighter than expected just a few months ago. With the energy crisis in Europe abating and China’s dramatic exit from zero-Covid, fewer economies will face recession. Have we finally reached the inflationary peak? What is the post-covid outlook for the rise of the middle class, fuel costs, financing costs and currencies? How sustainable is the growth triggered by the reopening of the China market, and how will the policy priorities from the recent “two sessions” meetings play out? What is the pathway to make the most of the evolving Chinese consumer? Will new growth markets thrive despite the continued tightening of global finances and weaker global growth, and where are the biggest opportunities over the next years and decades? To kick off the APTRA Exchange, Economist Intelligence Unit Global Chief Economist Simon Baptist provided insights on the most pressing issues and what they mean to businesses in Asia.
In the second session of APTRA Exchange, delegates heard from leading travel research agency ForwardKeys’ Vice President of Brands, Retailers and Media Marina Giuliano on the latest travel forecasts in the region, and what’s on the cards for the travel retail sector in terms of international departures and key airports in Q2.
This session provided an overview of a new ‘APTRA Index’ initiative that APTRA is currently working to develop, in order to provide an ongoing monitoring service to track the performance of the Asia Pacific airport duty free sector. APTRA Exchange heard from Stephen Hillam, Managing Director of Pi Insight, who introduced the initiative and provided information on the methodology, scope and benefits of having an anonymised Index developed for the Asia Pacific region, following the successful launch of the ETRC Index in Europe.