Presenting the alternative facts of travel retail

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Having woken up earlier this week to news that my profession ranks “among the most dishonest human beings on earth”, I guess I’ll have to just hope that my readers will believe everything that I say in this Blog.

The quote is of course from the new President of the USA, Donald Trump, this time reacting to media reports that his inauguration had attracted fewer people than that of his predecessor Barack Obama in 2009.

Mr Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer, a warm and cuddly man in the Hannibal Lector sense of the term, said it had been “the largest audience to ever witness the inauguration – period. Both in person and around the globe”. This despite the fact (and not an “alternative fact” – see explanation below) that every reliable crowd measure, including TV ratings, Washington Metro system statistics, expert crowd analytics and so on, confirmed Mr Spicer’s claims to be false (sorry, “alternative facts”).

Sean Spicer

The President’s top advisor Kellyanne Conway later defended her boss’s claims by memorably dubbing them as “alternative facts”. That got short shrift from NBC’s Chuck Todd, who said “alternative facts are not alternative facts – they are falsehoods”.

“Alternative facts” is “a George Orwell phrase”, Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty added on CNN, referring to George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘1984’ (perversely this searing satire on totalitarianism is a major beneficiary of the controversy, with sales soaring since Ms Conway’s admirably improvised assault on the English language).

“This brings us to ‘1984’ doublethink, where war is really peace, where famine is really plenty. That’s what’s happening here,” political historian Allan Lichtman said on CNN Sunday afternoon. He may be right but, hey, I believe the world is actually a much safer place as clearly President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un share the same philosophy on communication and will get along just fine. And here were we all worrying needlessly about the impact on duty free of a North Korean nuclear attack on South Korea.

Yes, folks, the Chinese Year of the Rooster is going to be a helluva ride. Imagine the odds you would have got a year ago on Brexit happening, Trump entering the White House and – let’s add in an absolutely implausible notion – Leicester City winning the English Premier League. Well folks, I’d like to say I predicted all three!

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Yes, I’d like to say that. But that, you see, would be an alternative fact. So, without crowing about my chances of getting them right, I’m going to make some fresh predictions for the Chinese New Year, this time travel retail-related. All in the spirit of alternative facts, of course.

1. We will get duty free back between the UK and the EU (later rather than sooner, admittedly, but it will happen or I shall move to Washington and become Donald Trump’s new Press Secretary). We will finally wreak revenge on the Danes for their actions of 1999, and Erik Juul-Mortensen will finally be able to stop pretending he is Swedish.

“I love duty free,” says Erik (in Danish)

2. The Korean authorities will licence another 175 new travel retailers in order to drive tourism and spread the yolk oozing from the golden egg laid by the duty free golden goose because profitability of existing operators no longer matters, and because it’s possible for Chinese tourists to visit 175+ shops in three days if you really push them.

3. On a similar note, Korea Customs Service will become the fastest-growing player in the travel retail community, offering its tender-assessment services on a consultancy basis to airports worldwide. This is good news for bidders as the financial offer will no longer matter.

4. Following the joint IAADFS and ASUTIL decision to merge their shows, TFWA will relocate its World Exhibition from the city of Cannes by merging with the North Korean Travel & Tourist Association and host its annual show in Pyongyang where stand costs are much cheaper and delegates tend to stay much longer. In fact they never leave.

TFWA delegates arrive at the Pyongyang Convention Centre
Delegates applaud the morning’s keynote address on why arrivals shopping on the North Korean side of the Korean border is a flawed concept

5. A new low-cost US-Mexico duty free store chain will open. It will be a Hole in the Wall operation.

donald hol sign

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  • Great job Martin. I always thought there was something suspicious about you. Now it is confirmed. Alternatively!

  • While preachers preach of evil fates
    Teachers teach that knowledge waits
    Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
    Goodness hides behind its gates
    But even the president of the United States
    Sometimes must have to stand naked

  • Martin

    Enjoyed immensely your blog. Very clever and well done.

    The idea of holding TFWA in Pyongyang is very novel… The logistics of getting there would be a nightmare…..the safety of attendees would not be guaranteed by the President of North Korea As for those kidnapped heavy ransom payments would be demanded, we would all be heavily insured. There could be appreciable sales of duty free goods to the President and his concubine.

    Well done Martin…….keep on writing.. …Mahendra