TFWA Cannes to be ‘different show in look and feel’

By Andrew Pentol |

This year’s TFWA World Exhibition and Conference in Cannes is due to take place from 24-28 October.

The Tax Free World Association (TFWA) is promising a ‘slightly different’ World Exhibition and Conference in Cannes this year (24-28 October) should it return as planned following the cancellation of last year’s event due to the impact of the coronavirus.

As reported, the Cannes event was initially scheduled to return in September (26 to 30 September), but was delayed following extensive consultation with members and local partners in the city.

Speaking to TRBusiness in a video interview, TFWA Managing Director John Rimmer, who participated in the interview alongside TFWA President Jaya Singh, offered an insight into the ongoing preparations for the return of TFWA Cannes. He focused on a number of elements including the traditionally popular social events.

“The social events are being discussed and decided by the Management Committee. We will have news on them in a couple of weeks.

“It is clear that the social events have a real role to play in terms of the success of the show. The show is obviously about business and this year more than ever it is going to have a really strong business focus to ensure buyers, brands and decision makers come together.


“The social events have a role to play in that as they allow business to be done, meetings to be held and for people to meet in a convivial manner.”

[Click the below video for our interview with TFWA President Jaya Singh and TFWA Managing Director John Rimmer]

He added: “The social events will be a little different this year and perhaps not have the same level of glamour and glitter they had in the past, but there will be ample opportunities for people to get together after work and see each other after such a long time.

“The desire for that is clear and it is our duty to really give opportunities for people to meet again after so long.”

Regarding further changes to the event’s format, Rimmer, who reminds viewers that the show will finish on Thursday evening (28 October) as opposed to the normal Friday said: “Daily exhibition opening times will be slightly earlier (08:30) and the exhibition halls will remain open slightly later than normal at the end of each day. (18:30). This will allow sufficient time for meetings.

Plans concerning the traditional TFWA Cannes social events are set to be revealed in the coming weeks.

“It will be a somewhat different show in terms of the look and feel, but the absolute priority is to have people in the same city doing business and planning the recovery. We know there is a real need for that.”

With the Cannes Film Festival currently taking place (6 July to 17 July), TFWA is monitoring how the event transpires.


“We need to closely follow the guidelines for organising events in France, which is what we are doing. The Cannes Film Festival is currently taking place and the whole city is mobilised. People are extremely excited. The aim is to learn lessons which we can apply for our event.”

On the prospect of TFWA Cannes being attended mostly by Europeans due to the travel situation being more favourable, Singh commented: “We are constantly watching the situation which is always changing, as regulations change when it comes to travel. You look at Europe and what is happening this summer and all of a sudden more people are beginning to travel there.

“If you ask me where I feel peaceful about attendees in terms of profile, I will definitely say Europe and the Middle East.”

Daily exhibition opening times this year in Cannes will be slightly earlier (08:30), while the exhibition halls will also remain open later than normal (18:30).

TFWA, however, is also expecting a decent turnout from North America. Singh said: “With the high vaccination rates in North America and the opening of travel corridors between North America and Europe, I am pretty confident we will have healthy representation from North America as well.

“As far our Asian colleagues are concerned, it is our hope they will come, but that very much depends on the situation in terms of the individual Asian countries.”

Should industry stakeholders from Asia or elsewhere be unable to attend, Singh is confident they can benefit from the online TFWA 365 platform, which made its debut at the association’s recent TFWA Hainan Special Edition digital event.

The Tax Free World Association recently held its Hainan Special Edition online event which marked the launch of the association’s TFWA 365 online platform.

“We are prepared for all eventualities, as we carefully monitor the situation,” he remarked: “Our wish and desire is for everybody to be there physically and we know that everybody feels the same way. This is something we have picked up on from our conversations with the different stakeholders.”


In talking up the merits of the new TFWA 365 platform, Rimmer also pays mention to the TFWA Hosted Buyer Programme, which is supporting retailers wishing to be part of the event. “We are under no illusions about the challenges ahead. The situation in Asia makes travel challenging from some of the key countries, but we are confident the situation will improve.

“The TFWA 365 option is there for those who cannot attend the event physically, but we also have the Hosted Buyer Programme this year, to which a lot of retailers have already signed up.”

In addition to welcoming a strong turnout from Europe at TFWA Cannes due to the improving travel situation, TFWA is hopeful stakeholders from Asia, Middle East and North America will also be able to attend.

He continued: “Quite a few of those retailers are based in some of the major Asian countries such as China, Korea and Japan and India. There is a real desire from everyone to be with us in Cannes and it is our duty to do everything for them to attend.”

Earlier this year TFWA outlined plans to offer a rebate to Cannes exhibitors should the event take place as planned — subject to the association exceeding forecast revenue expectations.

A number of retailers have already signed up to the TFWA Hosted Buyer Programme which offers assistance to those wishing to travel to Cannes.

Pressed for information on how the rebate will be administered, Singh said: “It is too early to give details on this. The top priority is to ensure buyers and sellers come together because that is the fundamental ingredient for a successful show.

“If we deliver on our numbers as they say for the event, then we will see how much of a rebate we can give the exhibitors. That is why we can’t give details at this stage,” he concluded.

As it stands a number of leading brands and retailers have confirmed their intention to participate at TFWA Cannes for which registration is currently open.



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