TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference banner
The first region to be impacted by the pandemic, Asia Pacific is now the first to see sales to travellers return. Duty free and travel retail’s centre of gravity looks set to continue its eastward shift.

In otherwise cloudy travel retail skies, our industry looks to Asia Pacific for rays of sunshine. China’s success in taming Covid-19, coupled with a strong recovery in domestic travel and the government’s stimulus measures, have driven a boom in sales to travellers centred on offshore duty free outlets. Turnover at Hainan Island’s duty free stores more than tripled to US$1.6 billion between July and mid-October versus last year. While unable to match that, South Korea’s duty free market is nonetheless on a firmly upward trajectory from its March low point. September sales (just under US$1.3 billion) were down -33% on last year, a result that many other regions would gladly accept right now.

Asia Pacifc's upturn

Asia Pacific’s leadership of global duty free and travel retail since 2012, when it overtook Europe as the lead region by revenue, looks set to endure in the post-pandemic era. The factors behind that rise still hold true. The Chinese economy continues to grow at pace despite trade tensions with the United States, helping to propel business across the region. Demographics still favour Asia Pacific, giving it the highest share of the world’s working population according to the United Nations, with a young and increasingly skilled workforce to generate prosperity. Aircraft maker Boeing predicts that Asia Pacific will account for 47% of global passenger traffic in 2039, far ahead of second-placed Europe with 29%.

The region’s leading forum for duty free and travel retail, TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference, will return in 2021. From 9th to 13th May, the event will blend physical and virtual elements to present the latest research, brand perspectives and trade advice to drive business growth throughout Asia Pacific and China in particular. TFWA’s ONE2ONE meeting service will allow participants to network with prospective partners.

Learn more about TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference