The Newsletter from the Association of International Retail
October 2021 - Part One
Welcome to Part One of a two-part update on recent AIR activity. Part One focusses on AIR’s recent activities at Party Conference, where we were able to soft-launch our three key campaigns which, together, will help to increase Britain’s appeal as an overseas destination, particularly to high spending international visitors. These campaigns are:
enhancing UK visitor visas for the Middle East and China;
replacing or restoring tax-free shopping on high streets and in airports; and
excluding Britain’s two International Centres from Sunday opening restrictions.
Next week, Part Two of our update will focus on our Budget Submission and progress at the start of our three campaigns.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to make AIR a strong voice for campaigning on the issues that are so important to securing a positive future for the international retail sector.
Jace Tyrrell Chairman
AIR at Conservative Party Conference
AIR partners with Gulf States Ambassadors to attract more Middle Eastern visitors
Representatives from the embassies of the GCC states, led by the UAE Ambassador, joined AIR’s Visa Round Table to discuss ways of enhancing the UK visa for Middle Eastern visitors, following concerns that Britain is falling behind Schengen.
AIR’s Visa Round Table brought together leaders of retail, tourism, travel and luxury organisations to agree ways of working together to encourage more visitors to the UK from the Middle East.
As the next step, AIR will partner with the embassies to seek support from Parliamentarians who are committed to enhancing relations between the UK and GCC states.
Ambassadors and Embassy officials from GCC states discuss ways to enhance Britain's attractiveness to Middle Eastern visitors with AIR and representatives of the retail, travel and tourism sectors.
Tourism Minister tells AIR Round Table “retail is central to international visitor recovery”
Tourism Minister, Nigel Huddleston MP, the key guest at AIR’s Round Table on Retail and Tourism, acknowledged the central role of shopping in Britain’s attraction as an international visitor destination.
He told the 30 industry leaders at the Round Table that ending tax-free shopping was a Treasury decision. Collecting robust data on the impact of the decision would be central to any future discussions with HM Treasury, he advised.
Jace Tyrrell chairs the AIR Retail Tourism Round Table at Conservative Party Conference with Tourism Minister, Nigel Huddleston MP, leaders of tourism and retail bodies and MPs.
MPs tell Minister that International Retail is important for UK growth
MPs at AIR’s Retail and Tourism Round Table stressed to the Tourism Minister the importance of retail to international visitors.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Chairman of the Conservative Friends of the Chinese, explained that shopping was the number one attraction for Chinese visitors. Citing the work of AIR’s predecessor, the UK China Visa Alliance (UKCVA), he said that the increase in Chinese visitor visas issued following the UKCVA campaign – which grew from 200,000 in 2014 to 800,000 in 2019 – showed the benefits of government and business working together.
Felicity Buchan, MP for Knightsbridge stressed the need for Britain to be constantly improving to retain its position as a global shopping destination and lamented the backward step of ending tax-free shopping.
AIR Round Tables bring industry experts together
AIR’s two Conference Round Tables provided opportunities for industry representatives to discuss key issues for the future growth of shopping by international visitors with policy makers and influencers. Attendees included, at Chief Executive or Director level, UKInbound, UKHospitality, The Tourism Alliance, Walpole and VisitBritain.
AIR Board members were represented by Global Blue, New West End Company, Heathrow Airport, and Marketing Manchester.
Paul Barnes, Chief Executive of AIR, speaking with the Retail Minister, Paul Sully MP, at AIR's Retail Reception at Conservative Party Conference.
“London’s high-end retail creates jobs throughout the UK”, Retail Minister tells AIR
Retail and London Minister, Paul Scully MP, told guests at AIR’s Retail Reception that the recovery and growth of Britain’s high-end retail creates and supports skilled manufacturing jobs across the whole of the UK, producing goods for world-renowned brands such as Burberry and Mulberry.
He stressed the important role of retail in the Government’s levelling-up agenda and pledged to continue working with AIR and others to explore innovations and ideas to help Britain retain its international reputation as a shopping destination.
Retail Minister, Paul Scully MP, speaking with Jace Tyrrell at AIR's Retail Reception at Conservative Party Conference.
New Chairman of All Party Parliamentary Group for Retail “gets” International Retail
AIR met Matt Vickers MP, the new Chair of the APPG on the Future of Retail, to brief him on the international retail sector, suggesting a visit to London’s West End and a possible presentation to the full APPG in Parliament.
Thank you to our Sponsors
Jace Tyrrell, Chairman of AIR and Chief Executive of New West End Company, who chaired all of AIR’s events at Conservative Party Conference, thanked James Batham, Head of Retail at global law firm, Eversheds Sutherland, and Pete Bowyer, Head of Public Affairs for Strategic Communications Consultancy, DRD Partnership, for sponsoring AIR’s Conference activities.
Click here to download AIR’s new briefing, with facts and figures to support the growth of our sector.
AIR Board Members
AIR's new Board Members include:
New West End Company
AIR seeks new members
AIR is seeking new corporate members at Board, Advisory Council and Standard membership levels.
Your support enables us to campaign on key issues for the future growth of international shopping sales.
If you would like to know more about how AIR’s work and how you can support AIR for the benefit of your own company and the sector as a whole, please check our website www.internationalretail.co.uk., our social media pages or contact Paul Barnes, our Chief Executive, at email@example.com.
Part Two – Budget Submission and Campaigns Update.
AIR is an independent, national sector support body open to all those who wish to support the growth of international retail in the UK. Founding supporters include:
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