People are the ‘real difference makers’, says TFWA

By Andrew Pentol |

The TFWA Hainan Special Edition event will commence on Monday 21 June. Source: Sanya Tourism Promotion Board.

Tax Free World Association (TFWA) President Jaya Singh has described the people of the DF&TR industry as “the real difference makers”, as the association looks ahead to next week’s Hainan Special Edition online event and upcoming TFWA World Exhibition and Conference in Cannes.

Leading travel retail businesses have officially pledged their support to the Hainan Special Edition event which runs from 21-24 June.

A strong line-up of speakers will headline the conference and host a series of online workshops. The workshops will focus on various topics including the progress of duty free and travel retail in Hainan; the digitalisation of retail; the future of the luxury market; and travel in a post-pandemic world.

Momentum is also gathering ahead of the planned return of the TFWA World Exhibition and Conference in Cannes (24-28 October). Fifty retailers have confirmed their intention to visit the exhibition should the event go ahead as planned, while a number of leading brands across various product categories (perfumes and cosmetics, fashion and accessories, wines and spirits and confectionery) are planning to exhibit.

Speaking during an online press briefing yesterday (15 June) comprising members of the TFWA board and Managing Director John Rimmer, Singh said: “The commitment and passion people have demonstrated and brought to the table are clear stand-outs. They have not taken no for an answer and demonstrated a culture of making things happen despite the uncertainty.

“People are at the centre of all we do. When people are able to demonstrate a kind of spirit to serve the industry and make things happen something is obviously right.”


Singh, who pinpointed the strong level of cooperation and collaboration within each stakeholder group as further stand-outs added: “They are coming together to re-start business and chart a course for a future we all have a stake in.”

Members of the Tax Free World Association board and Managing Director John Rimmer (pictured second row and third from left) briefed members of the trade media on preparations for next week’s Hainan Special Edition online event and upcoming Tax Free World Association Exhibition and Conference.

Looking ahead to next week’s online Hainan Special Edition event, where the association will showcase its new TFWA 365 digital platform for the first time, Singh commented: “We are really excited to get together with some of the voices of the industry and to be able to share perspectives on where we are, how the recovery will shape up and the next steps.”

He added: “Many important lighthouses of the industry are coming together to discuss issues and chart the future together. This is really exciting and there is a common interest which underpins the fact that people are the centre of it all and the ones who will chart this recovery collectively.”

Providing further information on the TFWA 365 virtual platform, Rimmer, who indicated that all future TFWA events will be future-proofed against external issues such as travel restrictions commented “We feel that the TFWA 365 virtual platform will strongly enhance and improve the service we provide to our members and the wider industry.

“All future events will have a hybrid component using the TFWA 365 platform which will be in place this summer.”

Tax Free World Association President Jaya Singh says the association is “absolutely committed” to ensuring the TFWA World Exhibition and Conference goes ahead as planned later this year.

According to Rimmer, the TFWA 365 platform was created after a consultation with TFWA members through a number of focus groups held earlier this year. He also indicated that the platform will be a permanent resource for members and the wider industry throughout the year.

All TFWA conferences and workshops can also be live-streamed through the TFWA 365 platform. “Any companies coming to Cannes without some of their colleagues do not have to worry as they can tune into the conference from afar. The platform also allows for virtual meetings to be held.”

Discovery, network and learning are the three key pillars associated with TFWA 365. Rimmer explained: “Discovery is the showcase for travel retail. This is where brands and industry partners who want to support the platform will have the possibility to present their latest launches, what they do and the fantastic products they sell.

“TFWA 365 will be a permanent showcase for members and exhibitors, who will have that online presence as well as the benefits of attending a physical event.”

The networking pillar is about building contacts, connecting and exchanging. “This is where one-to-one meetings will take place and the directories [containing the required contact information] will be stored.”

In terms of the learning element, this will focus on conferences, workshops and knowledge exchanges. “We will also have a full calendar of content on the platform moving forward in the learning section.”


On preparations for the return of the TFWA World Exhibition and Conference later this year, Singh said: “We at TFWA are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to make the TFWA World Exhibition and Conference in Cannes happen.

Rituals are among the high number of companies planning to exhibit this year in Cannes.

“It’s not just the will and intent on our part. It’s a reflection of the continuous feedback we have received. The time spent isolating in the virtual world has taken its toll on everybody. There is a genuine desire and passion to meet physically.”

Acknowledging the challenges associated with organising a physical event in the current climate, Singh remarked: “There is no certainty when it comes to the health and security situation, but vaccination rates are rapidly increasing which offers us more than hope.

“In addition, we are working with various stakeholders to ensure that if for some remote reason the physical show does not happen due to circumstances beyond our control [such as the Covid situation] we always have a plan B. This is ready to be switched on at the touch of a button.”

Raul Spanger, Chief Operating Officer, Gebr. Heinemann confirmed the company is planning to attend TFWA Cannes during its recent online press conference.

Responding to a question on the progress of the TFWA Hosted Buyer Programme launched in May 2021, which is assisting buyers and category managers with accommodation costs in Cannes, Donatienne de Fontaines-Guillaume, Vice-President Commercial, TFWA said: “It was a great decision by the Management Committee to implement the Hosted Buyer Programme, which has proved extremely successful.

“The deadline [to request assistance] has been extended so we can help retailers find solutions and ensure they can come to Cannes and meet with everyone.”

TFWA also plans to offer a rebate to World Exhibition & Conference exhibitors this year – should the Cannes event take place – subject to the association exceeding forecast revenue expectations. TRBusiness is seeking clarification on how the rebate will be administered and the conditions attached and will provide more information in due course.


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