The Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association is calling on governments in over 45 countries around the Asia Pacific region to include the duty-free and travel retail industry in the same financial support packages that the aviation and maritime sectors have received.
In a statement released on April 1, APTRA president Grant Fleming pointed out that the viability of the duty-free and travel retailing industry is “entirely dependent on the return in passenger traffic.” APTRA estimates that the industry provides 320,000 jobs across the region and is worth about US$36 billion. According to other statistics compiled by the association, airport retail and commercial services, including F&B, account for as much as 60 percent of commercial income for airport owners.
“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,” Fleming said.
Companies in the travel retail industry are usually categorized as part of the retail or sometimes the F&B sectors, hence would not be included in relief packages for aviation. However, some jurisdictions have provided sector-specific relief which would help the industry. Hong Kong, for example, offered a one-off cash injection to retail and F&B companies in February. Singapore is subsidizing 50 percent of F&B workers’ salaries until the end of the year. Many retail industry associations around the region have also been lobbying for non-financial forms of relief, particularly rental rebates.
APTRA’s April 1 statement is a reiteration of the association’s appeal to governments around the region, first announced last week.