ASIA PACIFIC. Travel retail and duty free must be classified as essential services vital to supporting the aviation, maritime and tourism industries that are critical to the Asia Pacific region, says the Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association (APTRA). The organisation today called for urgent government support for the sector.

APTRA said that it is seeking support across the entire Asia Pacific region, urging over 45 governments and hundreds of government administrators to recognise the unique economic contribution of the entire travel retail industry. It is asking that authorities prioritise support packages to the channel and the many stakeholders that are, and will be, affected financially by COVID-19.

“This campaign is fundamentally about securing financial support for industry survival,” said APTRA President Grant Fleming (see full statement below).

APTRA is writing to government policy-makers responsible for determining COVID-19 fiscal relief and funding across ministerial offices – including aviation, maritime, retail, F&B and tourism industries. APTRA is asking its 100+ members to continue the call for action via local outreach within countries to reinforce the initial message to the greater network of stakeholders and decision-makers.

The broad-reaching appeal is supported by a report recently commissioned by APTRA and the Duty Free World Council (DFWC), entitled ‘The Economic Impact of Duty Free & Travel Retail in Asia Pacific’ – a key tool in underlining the travel retail industry’s vital input to the aviation, maritime and tourism sectors, and the economies and employment across the region.

The report, published in October 2019, shows that the industry provided over 300,000 jobs in Asia Pacific in 2017 (a figure certain to have been enhanced considerably since) and made a contribution of almost US$15 billion to GDP.

APTRA is working closely with DFWC. With the assistance of specialist consultancy firm Hume Brophy, it is creating a plan, aligned to the global objective, to monitor government packages and share knowledge on best practice to try to appeal to other governments.

APTRA President Grant Fleming said: “APTRA is sending a clear and simple message that financial support for the entire duty free and travel retail industry is required.

“All governments and agencies in charge need to understand the importance of our industry for their economies and should correctly apportion and prioritise financial efforts quickly. APTRA’s mission is to strengthen, nurture and protect our industry.

“There has been no greater need for a call to action than now. As an association we believe we can voice the needs of industry via a unique stage for the entire industry and not merely seen as a group of businesses. This approach can charge the appeal.

“APTRA is at its strongest member number since its inception 15 years ago, and we know that the support of our members across the region can add to the volume to broadcast the awareness to governments at this critical time when there is such a need for help.

“Our objective is simple: we are seeking commitment from governments to apply financial support to the duty free and travel retail industry by including us within the designated community of essential services deemed vital in supporting the aviation, maritime and tourism industries that are so critical to the region.

“Let’s be in no doubt of the imperatives in this drive for action. Our industry dynamics are vastly different to domestic market retail because we are dependent on the return of passenger traffic. This campaign is fundamentally about securing financial support for industry survival and we are encouraging our association members in different countries to get behind it and use their existing connections to deliver the message to their governments.”

More to follow soon.