Published 12/05/2020 - 12:52

This simple-looking phrase clearly reflects ASUTIL's vision of this pandemic. We are already working, thinking about the day after, on the day that with short but determined steps, things will begin to resume their new normality.

Therefore, we are carrying out multiple efforts and developing in a very coordinated way with the DFWC, ACI-LAC, IAADFS, CEFSU and other associations, presenting to the governments different situations and proposing alternatives to actively transit this pandemic, which It visibly affects all of our industry, here and in the rest of the world.

In Latin America we are used to overcoming crises and in ASUTIL too. Twenty years ago, in 2001, during the ASUTIL Conference in Rio de Janeiro, the attack on the Twin Towers -911- took place, which forced us to suspend everything abruptly, in the middle of a lecturer's presentation.
It was undoubtedly a very complex situation, where fear and uncertainty reigned, the airports closed, just like now and the feeling of security became distant, when the attendees did not see clearly how they were going to return to their homes. This had severe consequences in our industry. A series of restrictions and new regulations were generated on the traffic of certain goods and this led to a series of adjustments, which changed the sales modality of some Duty-Free products.

Since then, as revealed in the news that we published at the end of March, there were several crises that we have overcome in ASUTIL, which have specifically affected our annual event as well as the world. The earthquake in Lima (2007), the hurricane in Puerto Rico (2010), the volcanic ashes just before our conference in Cancun took place in 2011. And we cannot fail to mention 2008 and 2009, the yellow fever and H1N1 in Panama and Aruba respectively, which are virus likewise the COVID-19. Hence, we can definitely affirm, that we are a resilient industry.

In our last webinar (Tuesday, April 28) the Board of Directors´ purpose was to convey a positive message to our operators and suppliers’ partners, in addition to the members of the press, who were also invited. That from this situation we are going to emerge all together and that we must do our best effort to overcome this difficult situation. Today the priority is everyone's health, and we used as a reference the internationally known tragedy of the Uruguayan rugby players who fell in the Andes in 1972. For this purpose, we had the pleasure of having the participation of Dr. Roberto Canessa, one of the survivors, to share some key concepts with us.

They spent 72 days locked in a super small space, without food, in a very cold weather, without any comfort and listening on a small radio that the world declared them dead and that they would no longer search for them. They faced making decisions that they never imagined… and despite all this they made it.
They did not sit around waiting for a solution, they worked as a TEAM. Tasks were distributed, they leaned on their personal values, on each other and in any physical and spiritual pillars that allowed them to survive in such inhospitable conditions. They went out for a walk, looking for their own solution, they were and still are to this very day a TEAM ...

Today we are bound to a more flexible quarantine, in our homes, some being able to work; with food and without extreme temperatures, with internet and access to movies, and above all hearing that the entire world is looking for a solution to combat the coronavirus COVID-19.

The great challenge for all is to recognize and understand that we must act as a team to emerge victorious from this crossroad; and to achieve that, we must improve ourselves and get better individually and as a society. When everything restarts, we must remember at that moment that we are all in the same boat; government, airports, operators, suppliers and associations.

With that multidisciplinary team and moving all together in the same direction, it is that we are going to mitigate the damage, that there will be, since it is inevitable. Nonetheless, someday this will be part of the anecdotes of our industry as yet another challenge in which our Industry tested their resilience and ability to work as a team.

Finally, we must understand that there will be a "new normality", some things will change forever, others will be partially modified, and others will remain as they are, because they are, and they will continue to be the support of our society.