Summer in Europe means TFWA World Exhibition & Conference is just a few weeks away. Here’s an update on what to look out for in Cannes, where the duty free and travel retail industry gathers at the end of September.

Inevitably, the annual summit of a global industry worth over US$68bn is a sizeable affair. Last year more than 6,800 visitors came to see the 500+ brand companies exhibiting in the Palais des Festivals, many of them also taking in the Conference beforehand, networking events throughout the week plus the high-tech showcase that is TFWA Digital Village. Latest indications suggest TFWA World Exhibition & Conference 2018 will be even busier, so an early glimpse of what’s in store will help you plan your time there.

True to its reputation for attracting guest speakers who have shaped our world, the Conference this year will feature former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and aviator-cum-scientist Bertrand Piccard. With America reviewing its policy on multilateral bodies like NATO, Fogh Rasmussen’s views on the geopolitical status quo could not be timelier. Piccard’s nonstop circumnavigation of the globe by balloon and pioneering involvement with solar-powered flight have established him as a forward-thinking leader in progress and sustainability. Delegates can find further food for thought at the Digital and Inflight Focus Workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings respectively.

The Exhibition stands out for the range and calibre of the brands on show. Carefully balancing established names with exciting newcomers, the 2017 edition welcomed a record 514 exhibiting companies, over one in ten of them new or returning after a break. Visitors this year can expect an equally compelling mix of exhibitors. While floorspace is tight in the Palais des Festivals, one area with room to expand is the quayside Harbour Village, where last year’s count of 16 official boats may rise. Nearby, TFWA Digital Village returns to build on its successful debut 12 months before. The pace at which new technology is being adopted in duty free and travel retail makes a visit to the Gare Maritime, where around 30 high-tech companies will be exhibiting, essential.

Having over 12,000 industry professionals (including exhibitors) together in Cannes provides some exceptional networking opportunities. TFWA puts on a comprehensive programme of leisure activities and social events to encourage delegate interaction. From the golf tournament organised with Qatar Duty Free and kindly sponsored by Dr Irena Eris and American Crew to pétanque by way of the regatta (courtesy of Paul & Shark), charity run and Rituals-supported yoga, the pre-show options on Sunday are plentiful. After the Opening Cocktail that evening on the Carlton Beach, the socialising continues throughout the week at The Scene on the Plage du Palais des Festivals, culminating in Thursday night’s spectacular Le Premium Evening at the Port Canto.

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