Global travel retail sales growth continues

Sales in global travel retail were up 4.2% in the first quarter of 2017, according to Tax Free World Association (TFWA) president Erik Juul-Mortensen.

Juul-Mortensen was speaking at the opening conference at the TFWA’s World Exhibition 2017 in its traditional venue, the Palais des Festivals in Cannes. He said this built on last year’s +2.4% growth in 2016 following negative growth in the previous year, 2015.

He said the global travel retail channel was exposed and business was affected by political and economic uncertainty.  There was also the recent terrorist events and there were regional tensions in the Middle East and Eastern Asia, specifically around North and South Korea.

On top of that there were large and varied currency and exchange rates.  He cited Brazil as an economy now in growth when recently it had been a “hospital case”.  Also, the UK’s decision to leave the European Union had resulted in sterling devaluing which had massively assisted tourism in the UK, particularly from the US. 

The TFWA president also noted that ‘Brexit’ could mean duty free returning to UK citizens. On a note of caution, he said that it was “not a given, yet”.

In a coded message the Dane warned stakeholders in the airport retail environment about not being too greedy when it came to profits and margins. He warned that if rents and margins became “unrealistic, brands would walk away. Terms had to be "more fair”.

David Rowan, editor-of-large of Wired magazine game a glimpse of the future with footage of what drones can possibly do such as pulling snowboarders and robots and computers that are likely to take over many jobs, including driving cars and lorries as we are already aware.

He was followed by former Irish president and UN high commissioner of human rights, Mary Robinson. Speaking about climate change and sustainability, she pointed out that despite what President Trump has stated, the US remains legally committed to the Paris climate change accords until 2020 when there will be the next presidential election.

On global warming and rising sea levels, she described the Caribbean islands recently devastated by Hurricane Irma and Maria as the equivalent to “canaries in a coal mine” in terms of climate change warnings.

Along with the likes of Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu, Ban Ki-moon, she described them as “the Elders” who, with their experience, seniority and contacts, are in the unique position of being able to convey “truth-to-power”, in meetings and conversations with current heads of state.

When challenged by the conference moderator BBC World’s Stephen Sackur, about her and Ban Ki-moon’s apparent optimist for the future.  Robinson quipped that Bishop Tutu had called them all “prisoners of hope”.

Former United Nations Secretary General and before that foreign minister with South Korea, Ki-moon, warned of the dangers of “building walls rather than building bridges”. He urged business to get more involved to build partnerships when it comes to climate change and sustainability.

He described US president, Donald Trump as “irresponsible and short sighted” as regards withdrawing from the US’s commitment to climate change.  He deplored the terrorist attacks with radicalism seeking to divide communities. There was a desperate need to “educate global citizenship”. He called for tolerance, human rights, multi-lingualism so that we can “move towards a peaceful, sustained, interconnected world”.

On North Korea, Ki-moon said tensions were “the worst since the Korean War” and there was a desperate need to diffuse the tensions, not helped by mixed messages from President Trump and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. Robinson described the interchange as “not helpful”.

Militarily Ki-moon said the US was “40 times stronger than North Korea” and we are in the midst of “high intensity psychological warfare”. He called on China to “do more”.

They both noted that the UN Security Council had been a “great failure” and there was a need to reform it. Robinson repeated that she and Ki-moon were ‘prisoners of hope’ and that they hoped their respective grandchildren would be living in a ‘liveable and peaceful world”.