Why Duty Free Trade is so secure: supply chain integrity

Why Duty Free Trade is so secure: supply chain integrity

Duty free and travel retail trade boasts a secure and transparent supply chain, which is supported by an industry fully committed to ensuring the authenticity, traceability and genuineness of its products. Making a meaningful contribution to the fight against illicit trade and counterfeiting is a priority for the industry, and we continuously seek to demonstrate our commitment to opposing criminal activity – in all its forms – to regulators, governments, and consumers. As the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and international travel resumes, duty free sales will play a crucial role in the recovery of the global travel industry and the national economies it supports.  

Too often, the duty free and travel retail industries are wrongly perceived as ‘free zones’, exempt from normal rules and regulations. This is not the case. All duty free and travel retail sales take place in highly regulated retail environments that are governed by strict customs allowances, such as airports, ports, ferries, cruise ships and land border shops. Duty free and travel retail stores at these locations are within security controlled areas, free from passing or casual customers. As a result of this, sales of duty free and travel retail products are subject to security protocols, including the requirement for customers to show proof of international travel and restrictions on allowances, to name just two. In order to deliver such secure conditions, members of the duty free and travel retail industry willingly engage with governments and regulators to deliver on all legal requirements. With this approach, to the industry can deliver a fully robust supply chain which instils both industry and public confidence. 

As is unfortunately the case in every industry, there are unscrupulous actors who seek to co-opt the authenticity of our products. This often occurs when counterfeit items are labelled or stamped with markings designed to resemble those placed on genuine duty free goods. Our industry has zero tolerance for this kind of fraudulent activity. We strongly encourage all our customers to purchase duty free products only from trusted retailers operating in secure travel environments. Any goods purchased in other locations (including the domestic market) purporting to be duty free goods are not, in fact, genuine products. Our industry will continue to work closely with enforcement agencies to stamp out any illegality where it occurs. Meantime, customers can rest assured that all products purchases from a secure environment duty free store are authentic, and genuine.

The duty free and travel industry is already fully complaint with all the important and wide ranging controls that protect the channel against issues including illicit trade. To further this, we have developed our own technologies and processes to ensure verification of registration, compliance, certification, review and audit. In the unlikely event that industry participants are found to have discrepancies in their stock and control procedures, they are subject to financial penalties from customs authorities.

The duty free and travel retail industry has one of the most demonstrably secure, dependable and legitimate supply chains in the world. However, its transparency can only be protected if governments, regulators and customers continue to trust in our industry. A lack of trust puts the long-term future of the channel under threat, in addition to all the customers, passengers, businesses, travel hubs, jobs and livelihoods that have come to depend on duty free sales. 

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