MEADFA calls on region’s stakeholders to join forces to reach objectives

By Faye Bartle |

Members of the MEADFA committee at the MEADFA Conference at TFWA WE in Cannes, 2022.

The MEADFA Press Conference at the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes.

MEADFA President Sherif Toulan, joined by members of the MEADFA board, delivered an update on the work of the association at a press conference held earlier today during the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes.

“In the past two years our industry has been hit hard by many challenges,” he said.

“We need to build on the positive and find solutions that will grow our industry to 2019 levels and beyond.”

Toulan pointed to the strong rise in passenger traffic experienced in the region.

IATA data released in August revealed that Middle Eastern airlines’ traffic rose 246.5% in June compared to June 2021.

Furthermore, June capacity rose 102.4% versus the year-ago period and load factor climbed 32.4 percentage points to 78.0%.

African airlines had a 103.6% rise in June RPKs versus a year ago. June 2022 capacity was up 61.9% and load factor climbed 15.2 percentage points to 74.2%, the lowest among regions.

As such, international traffic between Africa and neighbouring regions is close to pre-pandemic levels.

“With our region being ahead of the global recovery, we must work toward providing the best travel experience to current and future travellers,” said Toulan.

“We must be anticipating trends, thinking outside the box and challenging the status quo.

“We have learned some hard lessons, but success will not be reached unless stakeholders join forces for a common objective.

“Collective strength is vital for defending our industry,” he summarised. “We continue to work with all stakeholders to reach that objective. Our industry is primed for success, as long as we work together as one.”

MEADFA board member Rob Marriott, Chief Executive of ARI Middle East (ARIME), gave an overview of the association’s wins achieved so far that have demonstrated tangible results for members.

Among the points raised were providing regular points of contact for the three main categories (confectionery, fragrances and tobacco) and facilitating cross-category understanding of regulatory challenges.

“We’ve also seen successful with the MEADFA webinars,” he added. “These have proven to be an effective tool for discussing the challenges faced, as well as keeping stakeholders informed of opportunities and threats.”

Members of the MEADFA committee at the MEADFA Conference at TFWA WE in Cannes, 2022.

The MEADFA press conference at the TFWA World Exhibition and Conference in Cannes took place on Wednesday 5 October.

Marriott underlined how the association is engaging with stakeholders across the entire Middle East and North Africa region – the number of which has doubled over the past two years.

He highlighted the new developments in KSA with arrivals in duty free as a focus.

“Our members’ activities in this country are significant and as an association, this is something we will continue to support,” he said.

Continuing to mobilise parts of Africa is also on the radar.

During the press conference, there was also an update on MEADFA’s new sustainability committee, with the association driving engagement in three main areas.

These are: informing members of what is happening regarding the topic; catalysing members by working together more closely; and convening training sessions.

Members are being encouraged to take the lead on strands of sustainability that are a match with their individual areas of expertise – all with a heavy focus on knowledge sharing.

A message from board member Roger Jackson, Managing Director, Organico Solutions FZCO, was relayed, urging stakeholders in the region to continue to be proactive rather than reactive by becoming a member.

The MEADFA Awards

MEADFA announced the launch of the MEADFA Awards last month, with the results to be announced during the MEADFA Conference 2022, which is taking place from 27-29 November in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The programme is designed to recognise ‘innovative, dynamic, world class travel retail specialists’ in the Middle East & Africa Region.

There are five categories as follows: Best Retailer Award, Best in Marketing Strategy of the Year Award; Sustainability and CSR Award; Customer & Supplier Award; and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

MEADFA President Sherif Toulan

MEADFA President Sherif Toulan.

“The MEADFA awards celebrate dedication, innovation, achievement, and success,” said Toulan, at the time of the launch.

“Our objective is to focus on the dynamics of the region and acknowledge those who have made a significant contribution to the development of the travel retail Industry in the Middle East and Africa.

“The award committee encourages companies to nominate themselves and to highlight their outstanding contributions in a variety of business areas,” added MEADFA Treasurer and Award Committee Chair, Dr. Bernard Creed.

The closing date for entries is 7 October 2022.

Details of the MEADFA Awards jury were released on 29 September.

The independent panel of judges that will evaluate and score entries comprises five high-profile professionals, each with a strong background in retail and travel.

The judges are: Deema Anani, Chief Commercial Officer at Airport International Group; Edmund Poku, CEO at Niche Cocoa Industry; Martin Sabagh, CEO Middle East and Africa at JC Decaux; Richard Gray, Former CEO at Aer Rianta Middle East; and Rita Chidiac, Public Affairs and Advocacy expert.

The MEADFA awards committee will review all the entries for completeness in advance of the jury review and scoring.

The awards committee is comprised of: Bernard Creed MEADFA Treasurer; Isabel Zarza, MEADFA Vice President; Philip Haine, MEADFA Board Member; Rob Marriott, MEADFA Board Member; Sherif Toulan MEADFA President; and Micheline El Ammar, MEADFA Operations Manager

“We are delighted to have such an esteemed panel of industry experts to make up our jury selection,” said Toulan.

“They bring with them a wealth of experience that spans our whole industry. The inaugural MEADFA awards are open to both members and non-members, are not sponsored and will be held on the gala night of this year’s MEADFA conference in Bahrain, where it is being held for the first time, and I think it is going to be a great experience for all attendees.”

The inaugural MEADFA awards are open to both members and non-members, and are not sponsored.

The conference, which is taking place at The Art Hotel & Resort, has attracted over 100 registrations to date.

It will be opened by Toulan with a welcome address.

Within the opening session, delegates will hear from industry leaders from Bahrain and beyond, including senior executives from Aer Rianta International-Middle East, Dubai Duty Free, Gulf Air, Dufry and Bahrain Duty Free.

Further conference sessions will focus on key markets in Africa, with contributions from companies including Ethiopian Airlines, Lagardère Travel Retail, UNWTO and Accra Airport.

Sustainability will also be addressed, along with challenges to supply chains, the potential for the cruise market in the Middle East and Africa, and how the travel retail industry can find its place in the metaverse.

Networking opportunities include the Opening Cocktail reception on Sunday, Gala Dinner on the Monday hosted by Bahrain Duty Free, and networking coffee and lunch breaks throughout the conference.

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