The Tax Free World Association, which holds its main annual Travel Retail exhibition in Cannes, has admitted the French city “is not perfect”, but said that most members do not want to go elsewhere.

At a press briefing in London today (11 April), the president of the TFWA, Erik Juul-Mortensen said that “a very, very high majority” of attendees want the exhibition to remain in Cannes, despite the absence of an international airport and limited floorspace. Mortensen said the association has looked at other European cities, but would not move the event unless members changed their minds.

“Cannes is not perfect, we realise that,” Mortensen said. “We would like more square metres, we would like better hotels, better restaurants, more direct flights ... We know it's not perfect, and so do our visitors. But a very, very high majority of our members say to us, 'don't move'.”

John Rimmer, TFWA's corporate affairs director, told just-drinks Cannes scored high with members because the venue, the Palais de Festival, is in the centre of the city. He said Barcelona could be a potential new location for the exhibition, but the venue is further out of the city centre.

Mortensen said new rules introduced in February that allowed transit passengers in Europe to carry their duty-free alcohol purchases would give consumers more confidence to shop in Travel Retail.

“So far, the response has been positive,” he said. “For the alcohol industry, it's amazing to think that consumers haven't been able to take purchases with them in transit since 2006. It has been very confusing for them (consumers).”

He said airport authorities have done a good job communicating the changes to airport staff, but warned that alcohol companies must make coordinated efforts to inform consumers.

“They have to keep it simple,” he said.

This year's TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes will be held between 26 and 31 October.