Inaugurating the 38th TFWA World Exhibition & Conference, TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen expressed his gratitude towards attendees from the duty-free and travel industry. He praised their commitment to participating in the event, whether as exhibitors or visitors.
“At the Opening Cocktail on the Carlton Beach yesterday evening, it was heartening to see so many familiar faces. For many of us, this marked our first true reunion with colleagues and friends in quite some time. It was particularly gratifying to witness the strong presence of our Asian and American counterparts, who have returned in force following years of pandemic-induced travel restrictions.”
Juul-Mortensen highlighted the diversity of participants at the 2023 Exhibition, featuring both established brands and exciting newcomers, which collectively occupied more floor space than pre-Covid levels, setting a new record. He expressed optimism that visitor numbers by the end of the week would compare favorably with those of 2019.
“We are making progress, but we have not yet reached 2019 levels.”
Juul-Mortensen also addressed the current state of the duty-free and travel retail industry, acknowledging the optimism but underscoring the industry’s need for a complete recovery.
“Though the atmosphere around duty-free and travel retail is positive, we are not yet back to where we stood in 2019. The global passenger numbers for the first half of 2023, as reported by IATA, are approximately 10% below pre-Covid levels. The surge in air traffic, while welcome, has presented staffing challenges, as 43% of airport workers worldwide exited the sector during the pandemic, according to the Air Transport Action Group.”
He elaborated on the varying rates of recovery worldwide, emphasizing that the path to recovery is not uniform across regions.