And the world's most lucrative airports are ...

And the world's most lucrative airports are ...

Asia-Pacific beats Europe in duty-free and travel retail sales for the first time in history
airports duty free
In her eyes, these untaxed bottles are already hers. It's only a matter of crossing the border without crossing the guard at the boarding gate.

There’s just something about an airport duty-free store that makes travelers suddenly go mad for perfume and face cream, regardless of all the airport security hurdles they now have to jump through to lug them to their destinations.

A new report says the spending craze was particularly true at airports in Asia starting in 2011.

According to the Tax Free World Association (TWFA) -- the world’s largest duty-free and travel retail association -- Asian airports are now recording more duty-free sales than European airports for the first time in the industry’s 60-year-old history.

By the numbers

In 2011, 35 percent of the US$46 billion in global duty-free and travel retail sales was generated in the Asia-Pacific region, beating 34 percent in Europe and 23 percent in the Americas.

Worldwide, 31 percent of sales were recorded in the fragrances and cosmetics category, with wine and spirits coming in second at 17 percent.

TWFA’s announcement, which included research by independent analyst Generation Research, linked the growth of duty-free and travel retail to the growth in international passenger traffic (shocking, we know).

While the exact 2011 numbers are not yet in for the world’s most lucrative airports by travel retail sales, here are the rankings for the top duty-free stores of 2010:

Top 10 duty-free stores by travel retail sales

  1. Dubai International Airport
  2. Incheon International Airport
  3. London Heathrow Airport
  4. Singapore Changi Airport
  5. Hong Kong International Airport
  6. Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport
  7. Frankfurt am Main Airport (or Frankfurt Airport)
  8. Tallink/Silja Terminal (ferry port), Finland
  9. Suvarnabhumi Airport or (New Bangkok International Airport)
  10. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

More on CNNGo: 10 of the world's most loved airports

Frances Cha is a Digital Producer at CNN Travel. 


Read more about Frances Cha