TFWA Asia Pacific ‘has potential for growth’ as record number attend

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TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen addresses the first day of the conference in Singapore

Feedback from last week’s TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition and Conference was “positive” as the largest ever number of visitors attended the event in Singapore.

That was the summary from TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen as he addressed the media at the closing conference on Thursday, but he admitted the event has room and potential to build and improve.

A total of 3,194 people from across the duty free and travel retail industries arrived at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Conference Centre across the four-day event. This represents a 3% increase on the numbers from 2017. There was also an increase in the number of companies in attendance, up 6% to 1,290, and there were 1,105 representatives from across 284 duty free and travel retailers, which represents a 5% increase in personnel and a 6.8% rise in the number of companies.

The number of delegates from operators, landlords and agents was the same as last year, while the number of exhibitors actually fell to 309 compared to 316 last year. Despite this, Juul-Mortensen was keen to stress that the total exhibiting space was up from 2017 at 10,505sqm this year, compared to 10,254sqm previously. Of the exhibitors on show, 53 were new to the event or returning after a break.

“I have had a lot of positive comments from everyone,” Juul-Mortensen told the closing press conference.

“It’s been very positive feedback which we have had. People have felt that they really have had a good reason to be here.”

He added: “It wouldn’t be me, and it wouldn’t be TFWA, if we were not leaving Singapore with a list of things which need tweaking and changing.”

Changes to come

Pressed on the issue of potential changes, the TFWA President noted the importance of ensuring exhibitors deliver what that sign up for and ensuring the conference workshops do not become

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The workshops were attended by 871 delegates

“death by panel”.

Looking at the growth of the exhibition this year, even in the face of a falling number of exhibitors, Juul-Mortensen praised the potential for growth at the Marina Bay Sands. He said: “The good thing about Singapore is if we need more space we just open another hall.”

He reaffirmed the organisation’s intention to continue holding the event in the city for the immediate future, with the current contract set to run until 2020.

Discussing the big issues

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From left, TFWA managing director John Rimmer, TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen and TFWA Vice President finance Frédéric Garcia-Pelayo at the press conference

Almost 1,400 delegates attended the conference held on the Monday of the event. The final total of 1,390 represented a 4% increase on last year and makes the event the industry’s biggest conference after the one at the TFWA World Exhibition and Conference in Cannes.

At last week’s conference JTI held a Future of Brands event to raise awareness of the threat which increasing packaging legislation holds for the travel retail industry at large.

It is a point Juul-Mortensen feels cannot be stressed enough. He warned of the dangers of a “nanny state” approach after reports some countries may make drivers buy petrol at the pump to avoid being tempted by confectionery and tobacco products if they approach a kiosk.

“It is important,” he said. “TFWA and the industry is all about brands. It is a fact of life that a lot of product categories are under scrutiny; tobacco obviously being one, but so are alcohol and confectionery.”

He added: “We should give people their own choice [about what they buy].”