‘Over to you’: TFWA President is first columnist in new TRBusiness series

By Trb Editor |

Over to You guest columns logo leadIn the first of a new series featuring guest columnists for TRBusiness.com, TFWA President Alain Maingreaud offers his perspective on the industry’s response to Covid-19 and reminds us that it is always darkest before the dawn…

 

The word ‘unprecedented’ has been used many times to describe what is happening across the world right now and there is no doubt that what we are experiencing as a consequence of the Covid-19 virus is on a scale and scope the like of which we have never seen before.

 

The SARS and MERS epidemics, the abolition of duty free in Europe, the 2008/2009 global recession, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the volcanic eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland all took their toll on our business. However, their impact was nowhere near as profound as that of this current crisis.

 

The consequences of the restrictions on travel have been well debated and we have all seen shocking figures detailing all too clearly the effect on the duty free and travel retail industry.

 

WAKING UP TO A NEW NORMAL

The damage that might be caused by the more general financial impact of the lockdown of the international economy has yet to be understood, but there can be little doubt that it will be grave. Once the crisis is over, we will be living in a very different world. The way we work, shop and interact with friends, families and colleagues may well have changed dramatically.

 

Alain Maingreaud TFWA President tall portrait

“Human nature will remain the same. The desire to travel – to experience other cultures and to engage face-to-face with other people – is part of what makes us human.” – Alain Maingreaud, TFWA President.

But two things won’t change. Firstly, human nature will remain the same. The desire to travel – to experience other cultures and to engage face-to-face with other people – is part of what makes us human.

 

However, the support of governments will be crucial in ensuring that the aviation eco-system that enables this travel recovers quickly. It is therefore essential that the industry gets behind the work of associations around the world who are fighting to keep duty free and travel retail on the agenda when governments assess the need to help the aviation industry.

 

We need to work together to make sure it’s clearly understood that without a thriving duty free and travel retail industry, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the aviation and maritime industries to return to full health.

 

MAKING THE RIGHT DECISIONS AT THE RIGHT TIME

The second thing that won’t be eroded is the indomitable spirit of the colleagues and business partners with whom I work in duty free and travel retail.

 

We’ve bounced back from many challenges during my years in the industry, and over that time I’ve witnessed countless examples of our reactivity, our capacity to challenge ourselves, and our ability to stay calm in the eye of a storm, making the right decisions at the right time.

 

2020 is not the first year we have had to cancel TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference, and in 2003 the event was halted following the outbreak of the SARS virus. Yet we came back and the event went on to become bigger and better than ever.

 

While I wouldn’t want to underestimate the vastness of the task ahead of us now, I’m certain that we have the ability to return to prosperity again. We’ve seen many initiatives across the industry to help our own teams, the communities we serve, and the professionals who are looking after us. A number of these have been mentioned as part of TFWA’s #OneWorldOneTR social media campaign, and I would encourage everyone to share their own stories of how they are fighting back.

 

There has never been a winter without spring, or a night without dawn. Working together across the business, we’ll come through these dark times.

 

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the columnist’s and do not necessarily reflect those of TRBusiness.

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