July 26 2023  |  Associations

​Cyprus Duty Free pledges support for wheelchair rugby program at TFWA World Exhibition & Conference

By Hibah Noor

Cyprus Duty Free has made a pledge in support of the wheelchair rugby program at the upcoming TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes in October. The duty free retailer, owned and operated by ARI Middle East, has pledged a donation of €8000 (US$8,840), which covers the cost of one specially designed rugby wheelchair. The call for support has raised over €14,000 (US$15,470) so far.

Andrew Baker, General Manager at Cyprus Duty Free, said, “We are strongly committed to inclusivity at Cyprus Duty Free and at ARI generally, and we believe disability inclusion is hugely important. There are a growing number of passengers with disability travelling internationally; the number is expected to triple to over 33 million passengers between 2019 and 2028. This inclusivity initiative in Cannes is the perfect wake-up call for our industry to think more seriously about how we need to welcome them in our airports and travel retail environments. We look forward to sending some of the team who will be in Cannes to join the program and hope it will be inspiring for them too.”

The program, organized by travel retail research agency m1nd-set, will bring together teams from across the travel retail industry. The event will also include initiation in blind football as well as wheelchair rugby, closing with a wheelchair rugby tournament between the teams. The initiative will help raise funds for the Stade Toulousain Wheelchair Rugby team (STRH), a registered charity whose mission is to coach people with both mental and physical disabilities as well as raise awareness for disability inclusivity.

Peter Mohn, owner and CEO of m1nd-set, said, “We are extremely grateful for this very generous donation from Cyprus Duty Free. This will be of enormous help for the STRH charity as the cost of acquiring, shipping and maintaining these extremely robust and specially adapted wheelchairs is significant.

“We already have a number of teams and individuals signed up for the adaptable sports program. We are seeking to recruit 60 participants in total, to form 12 teams of five individuals. There are still places left though, so we are calling out to all industry friends and partners to sign up as we want to ensure we raise the maximum amount possible for the charity.”

The charity also conducts disability awareness projects through disabled sports aimed at the general public including able-bodied adults and children. STRH’s own wheelchair rugby team has won the French national wheelchair rugby championship ten times. The team’s professional players and trainers will be in Cannes to provide the training and coordinate the teams for the wheelchair rugby tournament.

In addition to m1nd-set, which will provide shopping vouchers at Nice Airport for the winning team, health and wellbeing brand Puressentiel and TFWA have also endorsed and pledged their support for the initiative, as has the City of Cannes.

The wheelchair rugby event will take place at the Gymnase Capron near the Hotel Martinez on October 1 from 9am to 1pm, with the welcome breakfast from 8.30am and lunch from 12.15 to 13.00 (both provided by Puressentiel).

The cost of participating in the half-day adaptive sports program is either €165 (US$182) per person or €825 ($911) for a team of five. Those who register as single participants will be placed into teams with other individuals. The contribution includes all activities, equipment, as well as breakfast, lunch and refreshments. All funds raised will directly benefit the Stade Toulousain wheelchair rugby association via its fundraising platform ‘HelloAsso’.

Individuals and companies have the opportunity to voluntarily increase their contribution on the website. French individuals and companies will benefit from a 60% tax deduction on the total contribution. Details and the link to enrol as an individual or team can be found on the TFWA website here.

The organizers are also seeking sponsorship to provide refreshments, wines at lunch, participant gifts and additional financial support for the Stade Toulousain Rugby Handisport association. Interested parties can contact Michael Barrett by writing to mbarrett@m1nd-set.com.

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