The US$36 billion duty free and travel retail industry in Asia-Pacific, which employs some 320,000 people across the region, is at risk of being overlooked by politicians as they craft coronavirus relief packages for the wider tourism ecosystem, argued the Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association (APTRA).
In a statement, APTRA – a not-for-profit membership organisation – called on governments in over 45 countries across the region to support these local and frontline employees in the region by including the duty free and travel retail industry in the same financial rescue packages as airlines, airports and maritime industries.
The duty free and travel retail industry in Asia-Pacific contributes nearly US$15 billion to GDP across the region, according to a report released by APTRA and The Duty Free World Council in October 2019.
Airport retail and commercial services, including F&B, account for up to 60 per cent commercial income for airport owners, outpacing aeronautical revenue streams. It is “the most significant direct contributor to the investment in Asia-Pacific’s aviation infrastructure and ongoing development of world-class national gateways, the region’s hubs to the world”, noted APTRA.
APTRA president Grant Fleming said: “The dynamics of duty free and travel retailing are intrinsically linked to the aviation and maritime industries, and its viability is entirely dependent on the return in passenger traffic. This means 320,000 jobs are at risk that could be safeguarded if governments extend financial support packages to the industry.
“The travel ecosystem is multifaceted and, beyond airports, the duty free and travel retail industry integrates deeply with the region’s vital tourism market – directly with operators such as airport retailers, airlines, cruise-lines and downtown shopping malls, and also indirectly with everything from hotels to travel agents and tour guides.
“We are calling on over 45 governments across the region to recognise the unique economic contribution of the entire travel retail industry and to prioritise support packages to our channel and the many that are, and will be, affected financially by Covid-19.”