First MEADFA Conference in Africa opens in Accra
The first Middle East and Africa Duty Free Association(MEADFA) conference in Africa opened in Accra today(Monday, November 20, 2023).
The two-day event brought together more than 300 participants from 150 countries across the world to brainstorm on strategies to support travel and duty-free retail industry to realise it’s full potential in the continent.
The participants made up of airport and aviation experts, brand development experts, event organisers, retail research specialists, global market analysts among others discussed how the airport commercial model can be adapted to ensure durable recovery in the post COVID-19 pandemic era for key players in the travel and duty-free retail industry as well as how today's traveller in the Middle East and Africa has evolved since the pre-pandemic period.
Other issues to be discussed include what do changes in demographics and spending levels say about post-COVID-19 duty-free shopping in the continent; and an assessment of the latest traffic data and travel forecasts, trends, and emerging destinations as well as challenges facing the travel industry.
The Ghana Tourism Development Company(GTDC) under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is partnering the Dufry Group, a travel retail company to organise the event among other partners.
Duty-free market growth
Opening the conference, the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said Africa and the Middle East duty-free retail market was valued at about $16 billion in 2020 and was expected to be growing at an average rate of about 3.7 per cent between 2023 and 2029.
“Here in Ghana we've moved from our own terminal two to terminal three at the Kotoka International Airport and we are also looking to improve on a couple of other airports including Kumasi and Tamale fully functional as International airports from where a lot more businesses can take place.
We look forward to deepening our collaboration with you and we hope that as you have come to Africa through Ghana for the first time it will not be the last time on this continent” Mr Nkrumah added.
He expressed the commitment of the government to position the country as “an epicentre where the retail dimension of travel flourishes.”
The minister explained that “through strategic partnership and sustainability development initiatives we aspire to create a business environment that not only captivates travellers but also nurtures a thriving retail centre.”
Mr Nkrumah stated that Africa's importance in the retail travel industry could not be overstated and that events like the MEADFA Conference were instrumental in supporting economic growth in the country as it created increased passenger, airport revenues, job creation and general country visibility.
The President of MEADFA, Sherif Toulan, for his part, said the tourism and travel retail industries in Ghana and neighbouring countries were developing rapidly.
“We see it as our responsibility as an Association to help our members and business partners to realise Africa’s potential. With that in mind, staging our annual event in Ghana is a logical step.” Mr Toulan stated.
He said countries such as Ghana, Senegal and The Gambia, have long recognised the benefits of tourism through robust travel industry to their respective economies.
The Chief Executive Officer of GTDC, Kwadwo Antwi, said such conferences would impact positively on the country’s aviation, transport and tourism industries.
“For us in the tourism industry it creates country visibility that for the past six months of planning for this conference and the past few weeks at least within the MAEDFA Ecozone, every body will be talking about this conference” he said.
Aviation in focus
During a panel discussion as part of the conference, three panellists, were unanimous in suggesting that the future looked brighter for the aviation industry in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era, in Ghana, and other countries in Africa
The panellists were the Group Executive in charge of Commercial services of the Ghana Airport Company,Mr. Kwame Baffour Awuah Otchere, the President of Avolta AG, in Europe, Middle East and Africa, Luis Martin and the Commercial Development Director, Egyptian Airports Company, Dina El Sherif.