More than 300 participants from 150 countries across the world yesterday converged on Accra for a Middle East and Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) Conference.
It aims to bring official recognition to the region’s Duty Free industry, raise awareness of the industry’s contribution to the greater travel and tourism industry infrastructure, and provide representation for its member companies.
The conference being the first ever hosted on the continent in Ghana is organised by Dufry Group, a leading global travel retailer in partnership with the Ghana Tourism Development Company (GTDC), under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
It brought together participants from the Middle East, Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Asia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Spain, Holland, Egypt, Tunisia, South Africa, Ghana among other countries.
They were made up of airports, airlines, retailers and premium brands from all over the world, encouraging meaningful exchange between industry stakeholders.
The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, opening the conference, said the annual event served as a platform for meaningful exchanges within the travel retail industry and Ghana as the gateway to Africa stands the ideal location to host it.
He said government was committed to position Ghana as an epicentre where the retail dimension of travel flourishes, saying that, through strategic partnership and sustainable development initiatives, Ghana aspired to create a business environment that not only captivates travellers but also nurtured a thriving retail centre.
The minister said African’s importance in the travel retail industry could not be overstated, as the conference was instrumental in supporting growth.
“Beyond the linkages that it creates, this will guarantee increased passenger through booth, airport revenue, job creation and general country visibility,” he added.
He said data suggest that, the Middle East and Africa Duty Free retail market was valued at about US$16bn in 2020 and expected to grow at an average rate of about 3.7 per cent between 2023 and 2029.
“Here in Ghana, we’ve moved from our old terminal two to terminal three and we’re also looking to make a couple of other airports in Kumasi and Tamale fully functional as international airports from whence a lot more businesses can take place,” the minister stated.
Mr Nkrumah expressed Ghana’s readiness to deepening its collaboration with MEADFA and hoped that the conference would not be a nine-day wonder but would be a frequent one hosted in Ghana.
The Chief Executive Officer, GTDC, Mr Kwadwo Odaame Antwi, said the conference would not only benefit the aviation industry but create country visibility to promote the country in terms of tourism, hence increasing revenue mobilisation.
He reiterated that, the sector had targeted about two million inbound tourists arrival which would generate tourism receipts of $5 billion by 2025, a target he said the MEADFA conference was a contributor.
The President of MEADFA, Mr Sherif Toulan, expressed MEADFA’s continuous partnership with Ghana and other African countries to enhance the aviation industry.
BY VIVIAN ARTHUR