About us

International retail is the sector of the retail industry that makes sales to visitors to the UK from abroad. Many of the goods purchased are subsequently exported when those visitors leave the UK.

Launched in March 2020, AIR works together with businesses, organisations and Government to ensure that the policy and economic environment allows international retail in the UK to realise its full growth potential.

Our aim is to help retailers throughout the UK enhance their sales to international visitors. AIR’s focus is on communicating the importance to sector, identifying and promoting policy changes that will help drive growth and providing market and international competitor research.

AIR's COVID-19 response

From the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, AIR has been representing to Government the interests of international retail to ensure the strongest possible recovery when visitors start to return, hopefully early in 2021.

As the pandemic developed the situation changed and AIR’s responses have reflected those changes.

In addition, the deteriorating diplomatic relationship with China has required an approach which supports continuing Chinese tourism but recognises, in parallel, the need to enhance activities to attract high spending shoppers from other countries.

See below for AIR's new joint campaign with New West End Company and Walpole.

You can read more about AIR’s earlier activities in response to COVID-19 here.

COVID-19 International retail campaign

AIR has partnered with New West End Company (the Business Improvement District for London’s West End) and Walpole (representing Britain’s luxury industries) to launch a new campaign with five specific asks from Government, four of them cost free.
  • Europe - extend tax free shopping
  • Gulf states – enhance the visa waiver scheme to match Schengen
  • China – protect travel and enhance visa application process when appropriate
  • Far East – identify and focus on other valuable markets
  • Business support – extend business support measures for companies that rely on international visitors

You can read more about the campaign here.

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