Fresh AIR

The Monthly Newsletter from the Association of International Retail
July 2021

Dear Supporter


Welcome to our monthly update of AIR’s activities and plans.

It was a pleasure to welcome so many senior figures from the international retail sector to our first Board Workshop.  We agreed our policy priorities, which are designed to ensure the strongest possible recovery for businesses that want to grow their sales to international visitors.

Campaigning to restore tax-free shopping and simplifying the visa system for visitors from key markets in the Middle East and Far East are at the top of our policy agenda. As we prepare for the return of inbound travellers later this year, and in support of the government’s Tourism Recovery Plan, AIR will continue to work with government and industry to promote these priorities.

We are in the process of recruiting a Board of key players which will meet in September. We are also actively seeking businesses to support AIR’s campaigning activities, either as  Advisory Council members and as a team of Supporting Members. You can read more on both of these options below and I urge you to give us your support.

If you have any questions about AIR, our policy priorities and activities, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. My colleague, Charlie, is available at and would be happy to help you.

Best wishes,

Jace Tyrrell


Retail Minister Welcomes AIR

We were delighted to open the inaugural AIR Board Workshop with an official welcome from Paul Scully MP, Minister for Retail and Minister of State for London. He described AIR as a “great initiative to identify areas where we can work together for the good of the UK economy”. AIR worked closely with the Minister and his officials over the course of our first year and we look forward to building on that relationship.

To watch the Minister’s welcome in full, click here.


Board Agrees Priorities

The Board Workshop was attended by senior representatives of over 20 leading organisations from around the UK, including retailers, property owners and tourism bodies., Over two hours they shared their unique perspectives on how to promote the interests of the international retail sector going forward.

Andrew Brown, Regional Director for Europe and Oceania at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) set the scene for us with insight into the WTTC’s views on the likely development of international travel and tourism post-Covid-19.

The group then discussed five key policy priorities:

  • Restoring tax free shopping
  • Simplifying the visitor visa application system
  • Extending Sunday trading hours in International Centres
  • Marketing to attract international shoppers
  • The environmental impact of international retail. 

The focus of our efforts for the next couple of years will be the Tax-Free shopping and visa programmes. On other issues such as Sunday trading, the environment and marketing, AIR will play a supporting role alongside our industry partners.

We would like to thank our speakers, who gave up their time to introduce key topics, as well as our other attendees, for their willingness to openly share their views and for their continued support for AIR.

To watch some of the highlights from the Workshop, please click here.


Next Steps

Following the success of AIR’s inaugural Board Workshop, we will be producing a report on our key priorities. This will build off the insight and analysis provided by key members of our sector at the Workshop. AIR intends to launch this report with an event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester in October.

Over the next few months, AIR will begin a corporate profile raising programme, with its Chairman, Jace Tyrrell, and Chief Executive, Paul Barnes, reaching out to key policy makers (such as Ministers, officials and advisors) and policy influencers (MPs, peers, trade bodies, media) to stress the importance of shopping for international visitors and to argue for our two key policy priorities.


Tax-Free Shopping Programme

As the basis for future campaigning, AIR is focussing on data collection to demonstrate the impact of ending tax-free shopping on visitor numbers and overall spending, particularly in relation to neighbouring competitor destination countries.  Together with Global Blue, we will be convening an industry roundtable to agree what data can be collected.  Please let us know if you are interested in joining that group.

AIR has also been invited by the Office of National Statistics to join their industry working group into improving the International Passenger Survey data.


Confirmed Board Members

We are delighted to announce new Board members including the New West End Company, Global Blue, Cadogan, Heathrow, Essential Edinburgh and Value Retail.  We will be announcing other Board members next month.

Founding supporters also include Harrods, Selfridges, Marketing Manchester, the Tourism Alliance, Walpole, Shaftesbury and Planet.


Support AIR

In addition to establishing a Board of key players within our sector, AIR is also recruiting an Advisory Council and a team of Supporting Members. We would like to invite you to join the AIR team and have your voice heard.

As a member of the Advisory Council, you will be entitled to:

  • Join Advisory Council meetings
  • Collectively advise the Board on priorities and industry perspectives
  • Be invited to events, including external roundtables 
  • Have your company logo listed on AIR’s website.  

Advisory Council membership is £5000 per annum.

As a Supporting member, you are entitled to:

  • Receive invitations to AIR receptions
  • Have your company logo listed on AIR’s website
  • Receive AIR’s monthly newsletter

Supporter membership is £2500 per annum.

If you are interested in joining the AIR team on the Advisory Council or as a Supporting Member, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Charlie at


AIR joins Central London business groups in call for recovery measures

The letter to the Chancellor from major central London business groups calls for a package of measures to support recovery and growth, including the restoration of tax-free shopping and extended Sunday trading hours.

To read more, click here.


Thank You

If you would like to know more about AIR’s work and how you can support AIR for the benefit of your own company and the UK's wider economy, please check our website, our social media pages or contact Paul Barnes, our Chief Executive, at