BREAKING: Juul-Mortensen elected TFWA President

By Luke Barras-hill and Charlotte Turner |

Juul-Mortensen served as TFWA Vice President from 1986 to 1997 and was President for nearly two decades before declining to re-run for election in 2018.

Juul-Mortensen served as TFWA Vice President from 1986 to 1997 and was President for nearly two decades before declining to re-run for election in 2018.

[UPDATED] Tax Free World Association (TFWA) has elected Erik Juul-Mortensen as its new President at the Management Committee meeting being held on Friday 10 December, TRBusiness can reveal exclusively.

Former President Jaya Singh chose not to re-contest the position he first secured in December 2020, something this publication had on good authority before the announcement was made official by the Management Committee.

Juul-Mortensen, the popular industry figure who served as TFWA President for almost 19 years, returns to the TFWA hot seat in a remarkable turn of events having stepped away in 2018 after deciding not to run for another term.


The affable Dane and much-respected travel retail leader will serve as President for a 12-month period in accordance with Management Committee rules.

In LinkedIn responses to TRBusiness’ story, Juul-Mortensen said he was ‘quite overwhelmed’ by the reaction to his appointment at the same time as pointing to ‘ambitious plans’ ahead.

“Thank you all for the kind welcome back. The industry and TFWA have a great task ahead of us, and I promise that I shall do my bit to ensure that TFWA is in the best possible situation to do its job supporting the industry in the difficult, but exciting time that lies ahead.”

As one of the original founders of TFWA, Juul-Mortensen was elected to the Board in 1986 before ascending to President for the first time in 1999.

TRBusiness understands that Singh’s decision not to re-contest the TFWA Presidency was at least in part influenced by his commitment to Mondelez WTR, where he serves as the division’s Managing Director.

It is gathered through conversations with industry sources that he was the sole individual outside the Management Committee to lodge their candidacy.

While a member of the Management Committee was also rumoured to have been in the running for the position, TRBusiness could not independently verify this.

Members of the Management Committee wishing to stand for President were requested to indicate their intentions to the TFWA Election Committee the day prior to the meeting on 10 December.

The deadline for potential candidates from outside the Management Committee to submit their candidacy was Friday 12 November.


Jaya Singh was originally elected as TFWA President on 11 December 2020, also on a one-year term, having taken over from another former TFWA stalwart in Alain Maingreaud.

The erstwhile APTRA President (2013-2017) has fulfilled his duties admirably during the past 12 months, while dealing with gruelling challenges associated with the ongoing Covid pandemic such as the cancellation of the TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition in May.

In a statement, the outgoing TFWA President said it had been a ‘privilege’ to serve over the past 12 months.

“It has not been an easy journey by any means, given the difficult context and the market difficulties our industry continues to face,” he said.

“But thanks to a huge team effort, we were able to stage a successful TFWA World Exhibition & Conference and create a platform on which to build in 2022. I know that my successor Erik Juul-Mortensen will work determinedly to take the association forward and he will enjoy my full support in those efforts. My heartfelt congratulations to him on his election.

“I did not stand for re-election, and as I leave the role I would like to express my sincere thanks to the permanent staff at TFWA, who have worked so hard in tough circumstances. It has been a pleasure to work with them. And I am also grateful to the TFWA Board and Management Committee for their support. Together we will continue to move TFWA forward under Erik’s leadership.”

The TFWA World Exhibition & Conference (24-28 October) attracted 272 exhibitors and 3,408 visitors, with the latter equating to around half the volume of the 2019 event.

Juul-Mortensen added: “Firstly I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor Jaya Singh, who together with the Board and Management Committee has taken brave decisions during a tough period for the association and for the wider industry. Their collective work has given TFWA foundations on which to build next year, and my task is to help ensure that we successfully navigate what will be a challenging year ahead.

“I am grateful to the Management Committee for the trust they have placed in me, and I can assure them and our partners around the world that I will work tirelessly on behalf of the Association to ensure that our strategies and plans are fully taking onboard the changes our market has undergone over the past two years. I am looking forward to the challenge.”

The recent TFWA World Exhibition & Conference (24-28 October) drew a total of 272 exhibitors and 3,408 visitors, with the latter equating to around half the volume of the 2019 event – a return that can be qualified as a success given the the current context.

At the exhibition’s closing press conference, Singh paid tribute to the monumental efforts of the Board, Management Committee and permanent staff in bringing to fruition an occasion that at frequent times looked unlikely to take place.

“We are back and the show will go on,” asserted Singh. “At a time of greatest need in our industry, there is a need to show up, and people have showed up…In life’s journey, you have to take a step forward, make a bold decision and despite the uncertainty, the price of not being here is far greater than the price of taking the decision not to be here. That’s the choice and I believe all of us have made the right choice.”

This is an updated version of an article first published on Friday 10 December.

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