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Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Snapshot -

hose who like to stock up on tax-free gifts at the air­port owe thanks to one Bren­dan O’Re­gan – the Ir­ish­man who launched the first duty-free store at Shan­non in 1947.

Spot­ting a chance to gen­er­ate rev­enue in this gateway be­tween the US and Europe, cater­ing comp­trol­ler O’Re­gan con­vinced the Ir­ish gov­ern­ment to pass the Cus­toms Free Air­port Act, which stated that tran­sit and em­bark­ing pas­sen­gers, goods and air­craft were ex­empt from nor­mal cus­toms and ex­cise pro­ce­dures. The Depart­ment of Trans­port then li­censed Shan­non to con­duct com­mer­cial and cater­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

O’Re­gan duly opened the world’s first duty-free shop. Run by lo­cal woman Kitty Downes, the sim­ple kiosk mea­sured only a few square me­tres and sold Ir­ish goods and sou­venirs.

In 1951, the first Air­port Duty-Free Liquor Shop opened. Orig­i­nally, it was solely for air­line stew­ards to pur­chase al­co­hol and tobacco for re­sale to cus­tomers on board. Later, pas­sen­gers were al­lowed to buy goods di­rectly at tax-free prices on a restricted ba­sis. The con­cept was a huge suc­cess and was copied the world over.

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