ETRC seeks ‘specific support’ from EU member states during Covid-19 crisis

By Andrew Pentol |

Nigel-Keal,-ETRC-President

Nigel Keal, President, European Travel Retail Confederation.

The European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC) has written to the European Commission to outline the impact of Covid-19 on the DF&TR sector and to ask the European Union (EU) and member states to allocate specific support to the industry during the crisis.

This latest development comes after The UK Travel Retail Forum (UKTRF) revealed earlier today (17 March) it had written to UK government ministers requesting support measures that will enable the industry to overcome the worst of the crisis.

In today’s communication with the EU, ETRC has asked governments to guarantee that any future compensation schemes will cover the wider transport industry, including travel retail operators.

ETRC has also suggested several mitigation measures including direct financial intervention by government to pay staff salaries for the entire duration of global passenger transport restrictions; deferral of payments of VAT, excise duties and other taxes for the duration of global passenger transport restrictions; direct financial compensation from government to compensate for losses incurred as a result of current government policy; and the cancellation of all local government taxes for retailers in 2020.

In the meantime, ETRC says the industry’s first priority must be the health and safety of staff and travellers. The Confederation also indicates that it supports the measures taken by public authorities at European, national and local level to best manage the spread of the virus and to minimise the risk of infection.

A LONG ROAD TO RECOVERY

“We are calling on our members to do the same and protect employees and travellers as best they can,” an ETRC statement said.

European Commission Headquarters shot

The European Travel Retail Confederation has written to the European Commission to outline the impact of Covid-19 and to seek specific support from the EU and member states for the DF&TR industry during the crisis.

Emphasising ETRC’s belief that the DF&TR  industry is uniquely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and that it is impacted more than any other retail channel, the statement added: “The sudden collapse of passenger numbers in international travel is further compounded by the drop of consumer confidence as wary travellers avoid interaction while in transit.

“Unlike other retail sectors, the situation will take months to recover, even after the crisis is over, as international travel is heavily dependent on external factors such as airline capacity, holiday bookings and societal health.”

The ETRC will play a crucial role during the crisis in coordinating action between members, exchanging information and promoting best practices between governments. It is also working with retailers, national and regional associations to help them engage with their governments to ensure member companies receive ‘adequate financial and practical support’.

Nigel Keal, President, ETRC said: “Undoubtedly, these are unprecedented times for our industry which call for a united front in order to overcome these challenges. It is ETRC’s duty to support its members in any way possible and overall, ensure that the voice of duty free and travel retail is heard during this global crisis.

“At the same time, we must remember that the priority is the health and well-being of our people, employees, partners and customers.”

In a final rallying call, Keal concluded: “Airports, operators, retailers and suppliers…We need to stick together and wait for better days, as our industry has shown its resilience in the past.”

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