2017 marked a huge milestone for duty free and travel retail – the 70th anniversary of the industry. The wonderful concept of duty free shopping began in 1947, when the first airport duty free shop opened at Shannon Airport, Ireland.

To highlight this anniversary and celebrate duty free’s success and contribution to travel and tourism, as well as the passenger experience, TFWA launched a promotional campaign targeting the travellers of today.

Six different executions conveyed a series of key messages about duty free. From the central role it plays as part of people’s holidays and the importance of gifting and convenience through to the jobs and investment in transport that are financed by industry revenues, the campaign underscored how duty free and travel retail enables and enhances the pleasure of travel. A series of distinctive visuals were created especially for the campaign.

And the success story continues, with Duty Free News International (DFNI) reporting record sales in Duty Free in 2017, with airports such as Dubai recording sales of $1.93bn for 2017, representing a 5.6% increase in turnover on 2016, and South Korea’s busy Incheon International airport standing up to the regions challenges, and showing DF sales of $2.1bn during 2017; a 4.1% increase on 2016 sales. Cosmetics and perfumes retained its position as the best-selling category.

Spectacular growth has been enjoyed since the early years when duty free launched. The duty free and travel retail industry is forecast to grow a whopping US$120 billion by 2025, making it a significant economic force.

Today’s travel retail experience is dramatically

different from 1947, and for many, a highlight of any journey.

Travel, the foundation upon which it’s success depends, is increasing, particularly amongst millennials, and air passenger traffic is forecast to rise significantly in the next 3 years.

Building on the millennial passenger experience the industry is taking strides to embrace digital technology. TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen says that it’s an imperative step forward if duty free is to remain competitive.


Advances in technology have transformed the world in which consumers operate. As on the high street, duty free and travel retail has faced competition from the internet and mobile technology.

Juul-Mortensen says that whether at airports, on cruise ships or outside Europe at international border crossings, duty free and travel retail is in many ways no different to high street retail.

“It too needs to embrace new ways of communicating and creating relationships with customers. The future of our industry, like so many others, is undoubtedly digital.”

The TFWA commissioned research into the use of technology within the industry. Passengers are becoming younger, and the large number of Generation Y travellers now dominate the market, with the majority using Smart Phones.

This makes it increasingly important for retailers in duty free and travel retail to build a meaningful dialogue to engage with consumers via digital platforms. In response to the need for a stronger bond between travel retail and technology industries, TFWA launched its DIGITAL VILLAGE at the TFWA Show 2017 showcasing creative digital solutions. It’s success will be repeated at the Cannes event in 2018.

At Frontline we are no strangers to digital solutions and have been embracing innovative technology within the duty free and retail environment for several years.

When Dubai Airport opened its new concourse in 2016 we created a unique VR and immersive platform, where visitors could experience flying through a chosen city. Using Kinect gaming

technology, an Oculus headset and Birdly wingsuit, the user had a realistic sensation of flying. Outside of the platform a large lenticular floor created a 3D experience for customers waiting to try the flying app.

For more information on the tax free world visit TFWA (www.tfwa.com) and DFNI (www.dfnionline.com)