Despite COVID-19 restrictions in place, Sky Duty Free officially opened the first duty free shop in the Brazilian border town of Foz de Iguaçu this Monday, with an impressive welcome. The 550sqm store debuted on May 4 with municipal and regional authorities in attendance along with the company’s senior management.
The Brazilian government approved the opening of duty free shops in 32 twin cities on the country’s land borders in 2019. To date, duty free stores have been opened in Uruguaiana and Jaguarão in Rio Grande do Sul province.
Local authorities view duty free stores like Sky as a plus for tourism.
Foz de Iguaçu Mayor, Chico Brasileiro, who participated in the opening ceremony, commented: “The opening of the first duty free store in the city is an important milestone for shopping tourism in Foz. Sky Duty Free opens a new perspective of economic development for all the city residents. It is yet another attraction that Foz do Iguaçu makes available to tourists.”
Sky Duty Free Director Alex Beridze lauds the location of the new store: “Our store in Foz has been ready for several months and after a few unexpected delays, today we are very pleased to open to the public,” he said. “We have a very good location right on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. We are exactly in the center of town where everything happens.”
Sky Duty Free is carrying a wide selection of such core categories as perfumes, cosmetics, wines and spirits and tobacco, says Beridz, who acknowledges that the pandemic is limiting the customer base at this time.
“Once the situation gets back to normal, we look forward to looking after the shopping needs of tourists from Brazil, neighboring countries and all over the world. This is our first store and we are planning for more – hopefully within the next few days, we can confirm the location of our second store,” he tells TMI.
Sky Duty Free is located at Rua Marechal Deodoro da Fonseca in the center of Foz do Iguaçu. Town residents queued outside the store to shop but social distancing and other sanitary measures were in place and only a limited number of shoppers were allowed in to the store at any one time. These measures will remain in place until the Brazilian government advises that the state of emergency is cancelled, noted Beridze.
The Sky management team can be contacted at email@example.com
It’s a bold move by Sky to open with very little tourism in the Triple Frontier area and with the Brazilian Real at 5.50 to the US Dollar – local residents and Brazilian tourists will clearly have less cash to spend in the short term. The 40% devaluation since the start of the year is not good news for the fledgling Brazilian border duty free store business.
It’s still not clear when neighboring Argentine and Paraguayan residents will be allowed to travel and cross the land border and the arrival of non-Mercosur tourists seems many months away.
However Brazilian domestic tourism seems to be restarting – Azul Airlines restarted domestic flights to Iguaçu on the same day as Sky opened their new store with a daily service from Sao Paulo Viracopos. Gol and Latam are expected to restart a limited schedule later in the month; it should be interesting to hear of Sky’s expansion plans in the current circumstances.