The Tax Free World Association (TFWA) has reiterated that preparations for the upcoming Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference (10-14 May) are continuing, despite the seriousness of the coronavirus situation.
Speaking to TRBusiness at the end of January, Alain Maingreaud, President, TFWA said ‘there was no plan B’ and that the association would continue monitoring the situation alongside its members and business partners.
A more recent TFWA statement indicates that the association is liaising with the authorities in Singapore and other relevant bodies and will ‘take appropriate action in the interests of the industry as and when necessary.”
In the meantime, TFWA and the Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association (APTRA) are continuing to work closely with their members (retailers, brands, airports and food and beverage and inflight operators) to monitor and evaluate the coronavirus situation. Both associations are working together to assess the situation as it develops and provide support to the industry, especially to businesses in Asia Pacific.
In a joint TFWA/APTRA statement issued today (11 February) Maingreaud said: “We are of course fully aware of the negative impact of the current crisis on TFWA’s members and those of APTRA. However, we are continuing to prepare for our event in Singapore, which is the major annual gathering of our industry in Asia Pacific.
“The TFWA Board and team are in constant contact with our partners in Singapore along with government authorities and are monitoring the situation very closely.”
MARCH MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE MEETING
He added: “The TFWA Management Committee will meet as planned in early March and will take stock of the situation at that time, with a view to moving forward in the best interests of our industry.”
The TFWA’s current plans for the Asia Pacific Exhibition and Conference in May are being supported by APTRA. Grant Fleming, President, APTRA (pictured left) commented: “We support TFWA’s plans for the Singapore event in May, a crucial rendezvous in the industry calendar. This will be an important opportunity to discuss how we will rebound from what has been for all our members an exceptionally challenging start to the year.”
Despite working on important issues and concerns relating to the Asia Pacific Exhibition and Conference, Maingreaud says the association’s first thoughts are with the victims of the outbreak and individuals and companies most affected. “All of us at TFWA stand with our colleagues and partners in China and Asia Pacific, where the impact of the current situation has been felt most keenly.
“Our friends at APTRA and ourselves are in constant contact to share information on fresh developments and to assess how our industry is being affected.”
Offering an APTRA perspective on the coronavirus situation and the reaction of the DF&TR industry, Fleming says the current measures on travel restrictions and recent store closures in some locations are sensible precautions and will help limit the spread of the virus. He remarked: “Although they are painful commercially in the short-term, we wholeheartedly support these mitigation strategies for the long-term benefit of the industry. The health and safety of employees and customers is an absolute priority.”
Fleming also hails the proven resilience of the Asia Pacific region. “Asia Pacific is unquestionably resilient and resourceful and there is proven analysis of the bounce-back from previous crises, such as SARS or the 2008-2009 global financial crash. There are underlying long-term positives, with IATA reporting an influx of 450 million additional Chinese air passengers over the last 10 years and analysis that China will become the largest aviation market within the next five years. Long-term growth is projected to deliver 1 billion new passengers by 2037, increasing the number to 1.6 billion.
“When Chinese tourists start travelling again at full pace, which they will do, we should expect a return to commercial growth with the same vigour and energy we’ve seen when faced with other headwinds. We are, after all, a region that thrives on fast change.”