Middle East, Africa expected to return to pre-pandemic levels of business travel spend by 2024
By ’Wale Olapade
Business travel in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is recovering more rapidly than in any other region, according to the most recent Business Travel Index Outlook annual forecast and outlook (2022), from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).
MEA business travel achieved 86 per cent of its 2019 levels during 2022, out-performing the recovery in Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe.
The strong performance of the sector and future opportunities will come under the spotlight during Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2023, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from May 1 to 4, 2023.
According to Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market “The business travel sector is a key component of the Middle East’s wider travel and tourism industry, and it is encouraging to see that it has bounced back so strongly since the pandemic.
“The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) will present an in-depth analysis of how technology can support this return to travel and the ways in which this can be done sustainably in two education sessions with key insights from leading industry professionals.”
According to the forecast, business travel spending reached $933 billion globally in 2022, 65 per cent of the $1.4 trillion business pre-pandemic travel spend, with the MEA region accounting for $23 billion or approximately 2.5 per cent of overall spending within the sector.
“The MEA region is an important growth market for business travel and benefitted from a prompt COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in key markets such as the UAE and Israel, as well as increased economic activity driven by the rising price of crude oil to accelerate the business travel recovery. The region is expected to return to pre-pandemic business travel spend by 2024 and continue its growth trajectory” said Catherine Logan, Regional Vice President EMEA & APAC, GBTA
GBTA will be hosting two sessions at ATM 2023; the first with the theme, ‘All Hail the Innovators’ will be taking place on the global stage, discussing how transformational technologies can be harnessed and incorporated into corporate travel program effectively.
High-profile speakers include, James Britchford, Vice President Commercial IMEA, IHG, Jordan Bray, Vice President of Plug and Play, and Mohammed Halawi, Global Travel and Journey Risk Management Director, Firmenich FZ LLC.
The second session with theme ‘Implementing Sustainability in your Travel Program’ will be taking place in the brand-new Sustainability Hub and will feature GBTA’s Catherine Logan, Regional Vice President – EMEA & APAC. Logan will provide insights on how corporate travel programs can become more sustainable.
Aside from restricted travel, an increase in remote working globally has had a dampening effect on business travel growth. However, now that travel is almost restriction-free, employees have revealed an increased likelihood to travel more for work, whether long-term or overnight business trips according to the latest business travel outlook poll from GBTA.
Curtis commented: “After the turbulent period we have experienced over the last two years, it will be very interesting to assess current market conditions and find out how business travel can continue to grow, particularly with the recent relaxation of travel restrictions in China.”
ATM 2023 will explore the future of sustainable travel in line with its theme of ‘Working Towards Net Zero’. Having officially initiated its journey to net zero, the conference programme will explore how innovative sustainable travel trends are likely to evolve, allowing delegates to identify growth strategies within key vertical sectors while providing a platform for regional experts to explore a sustainable future ahead of COP28, which will take place in November 2023 at Expo City Dubai.
The conference will also feature a sustainability category at its annual exhibitor awards for the first time. Exhibiting organisationswill be recognised based on the extent to which they have considered the environmental impact of their stands, as well as their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.
ATM 2023 is held in conjunction with Dubai World Trade Centre and its strategic partners include Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) as the Destination Partner, Emirates as the Official Airline Partner, IHG Hotels & Resorts as the Official Hotel Partner and Al Rais Travel as the Official DMC Partner.
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