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If US President Barak Obama or German leader Angela Merkel happen to be travelling through Vladivostok Airport this year, they better not expect to stock up on duty free.
An in-store sign banning Obama and Merkel, along with the UK, Canadian, French, Australian and Japanese leaders David Cameron, Stephen Harper, Francois Hollande, Tony Abbott andShinzo Abe was this week posted on Instagram by writer Michael Idov and subsequently picked up by newswire services. Six leading Ukrainian politicians, including President Piotr Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk are included in the ban.
The ban is a response to tighter economic sanctions imposed on Russia as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.
Could this create an intriguing precedent for the duty free industry as it takes its lobbying powers to a new, radical level? How about all intra-European Union airports banning former European Commissioner (and later Italian Prime Minister) Mario Monti – the man who killed off intra-EU duty free – from its stores, duty paid or otherwise?
Then again, wasn’t it Denmark which cast the death knelll vote in 1999? That’s it then – a blanket global ban on all Danes entering duty free shops to, say, 2299. That’ll give them the best part of three centuries to rue the miserable error of their ways (though as the industry is setting the rules, we better grant an honourable exemption to TFWA President Erik Juul-Mortensen).
Perhaps all duty free stores worldwide could also unite in barring World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan, though it is unlikely that she would have been seen buying her 200 Marlboro Lites anyway.
What a marvellous expression of fervent nationalism the duty free industry could become. Just think, Brazilian stores could have banned German footballing ace Toni Kroos and his teammates for the humiliation he and they reaped on the home nation in the FIFA World Cup match won 7-1 by Germany.
Equally, territorial disputes could easily be sorted by striking an offending nationality where it hurts – in the duty free allowance. And New Zealand airports could ban Australians from buying duty free because… well… because they are Australian. Ok, it could be disastrous for business but it’s the principle that matters, right?
Or what about the Eurovision Song Contest? If ever Norway is awarded ‘nul points’ again it can get its retaliation in first by prohibiting all other European nationalities from buying on arrival or departure at Oslo Airport. ‘Norwegians only’ (ok, Ja, we’ll make an exception for Germans)’ will be the bold sign outside the Heinemann door.
Any other suggestions? The best (unless it’s from an Australian) wins a bottle of Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, duty free of course. Please send by e-mail to Martin@TheMoodieReport.com headed ‘Making no allowances’.