Industry group seeks support for Asia-Pac’s travel retail industry


Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association (APTRA) said over 320,000 local jobs across the Asia-Pacific region and a US$36 billion industry are at risk of being overlooked as countries in the region devise financial rescue measures to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
Thus, APTRA is calling on governments of countries across the region to support 320,000 local and front-line employees in Asia-Pacific by including the duty-free and travel retail industry in the same financial support packages as airlines, airports and maritime sectors. APTRA is a non-profit membership organisation whose mission is to strengthen, nurture and protect the duty-free and travel retail industry in the Asia-Pacific.
Airport retail and commercial services, including food and beverage (F&B), constitute a crucial business sector providing up to 60% vital commercial income for airport owners, outpacing aeronautical revenue streams, said APTRA. 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, according to the association.
Grant Fleming, president of APTRA, explained that the dynamics of duty-free and travel retailing links with the aviation and maritime industries. Its viability is entirely dependent on the return of passenger traffic. "This means 320,000 jobs are at risk that could be safeguarded if governments extend financial support packages to the industry," he said. The travel ecosystem is multi-faceted, Fleming added. Beyond airports, the duty-free and travel retail industry integrate deeply with the region's vital tourism market.

Changi airport assisting F&B concessionaires
According to the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS), the impact of COVID-19 has affected restaurants across the board. In a snap poll that RAS conducted among its members in February this year, 57% of the respondents expected more than 50% decline in revenue over the next three months. Some members see the drop in revenue extending to as much as 80%, especially at venues (such as airport F&B outlets) which rely on tourists.
The Singapore government is releasing assistance packages to Changi Airport’s retail, F&B and service concessionaires to help them tide over the challenging retail climate. The COVID-19 outbreak has adversely affected air passenger traffic and weakened consumer demand. For example, concessionaires in Changi Airport's four terminals and both the transit and public areas are offered a 50% rebate on their monthly Basic Rental (BR) for six months effective February 1, 2020 (or any later tenancy commencement date). This support is in addition to an automatic rental offset tied to passenger movements at Changi Airport that these concessionaires will receive as part of their tenancy agreements.
"The shops and restaurants in Changi Airport are very much dependent on passenger traffic. The COVID-19 situation has affected air travel significantly, and there has been a marked drop in business for our concessionaires," said Lim Peck Hoon, executive vice-president of Commercial, Changi Airport Group. "With our unique rental structure, our concessionaires will benefit from an "automatic" reduction in their rent in tandem with the decrease in passenger traffic." (Image: F&B retail outlets in Changi Airport)

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