First FDFA Convention since pandemic expected to attract 100 buyers

By Kristiane Sherry |

Traffic at land border between US and Canada

The FDFA Convention is set to return for the first time since the pandemic.

Canada’s Frontier Duty Free Association (FDFA) has announced the return of its annual conference, set to take place in November 2023 with the theme ‘Building the Industry for a Strong Tomorrow’.

Scheduled to take place from 27-30 November, the event will mark the first time the FDFA has held an in-person gathering on this scale since before the coronavirus pandemic.

The FDFA Convention is the only dedicated duty free gathering of its kind in the country. Registration for members is due to open in mid-June, closing on 27 September.

Over 100 buyers are expected to attend, with delegates representing border and airport stores in the channel. They will come together with brands and other industry stakeholders to share ideas, ideate and build relationships. 

Its programme will seek to inspire current and prospective members to work together more closely so that Canada’s duty free industry can “thrive and prosper”.

An opening cocktail on 27 November will raise the curtain on three days of business meetings, with the Imperial Gala & Awards taking place on 29 November.

Barbara Barrett, FDFA Exec Director, says the Convention’s return will position Canada as a global duty free leader.

The FDFA’s Gold Standards Awards programme will also resume in 2023. Finalists will be revealed in the first week of November, and winners announced at the Gala & Awards.

FDFA members include 26 Canadian land border duty free shops, with associate members comprising Canadian airport and border stores, trade supplier members, and other industry representatives.

“Our goal after coming out of the border closure and the pandemic is to see past recovery and focus on thriving and building our industry,” said Barbara Barrett, FDFA Executive Director.

“Our first convention back seeks to position Canada as a global leader in the duty free sector and position duty free as integral part of the growing tourism sector in Canada.”

She continued: “We are returning to the Omni King Edward Hotel this year as its private spaces are conducive to our meeting and networking needs.

“We will continue to offer buyer group presentations, and are looking at having an exhibitor area for a number of suppliers as well.”

It was only in October 2022 that Canada removed all Covid-19-related travel and border entry restrictions, in a significant boost to the country’s duty free and travel retail businesses.

The FDFA’s 2022 Convention took place as a virtual summit in November where it hosted working sessions and launched a Brand Discovery Programme to make it easier for retailers to source “competitive” products.



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