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Emerging Markets for Business Travel: Opportunities for Growth in a Recovering Industry

4 min read
Business traveler standing in airport with luggage, looking out windows at airplanes taking off

Business travel is making a strong comeback, and as companies seek to make up for lost time, emerging markets are poised to play a crucial role in the recovery. While North America and Western Europe are predicted to experience robust regional recoveries, other regions such as the Asia-Pacific (APAC) and the Middle East and Africa (MEA) present exciting opportunities for the future of business travel. In this blog, we will explore these emerging markets, the factors driving their growth, and what it means for the Global Mobility Industry.

  1. The Asia-Pacific (APAC) Region:

The APAC region is set to regain its momentum in business travel. According to a market research study by Escalent, spending is projected to exceed 2019 levels by 3% in 2024; hence, the industry is poised for a strong comeback. China, in particular, is expected to reclaim its position as the number one market by the end of 2023, despite some concerns over its economic slowdown. The region’s continued investments in infrastructure and a strong economic outlook indicate a promising future for business travel in APAC.

  1. India: A Key MICE Market:

India is emerging as a significant player in the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) market. The Indian government has recognized the potential of business events and has increased investments in infrastructure to support global gatherings. This proactive approach, coupled with a strong economic outlook, positions India as an attractive destination for business travelers. As the country aims to establish itself as a key MICE hub, there are abundant opportunities for hotels and service providers to capitalize on the growing demand.

  1. The Middle East and Africa (MEA) Region:

The MEA region, comprising countries such as Saudi Arabia and Morocco, is making remarkable strides in business travel recovery. According to the same Escalent study, in 2022, business travel spending in the MEA region reached 86% of pre-pandemic levels, and a full recovery is expected by the end of the year. Several initiatives to develop infrastructure in the region have also positioned it as an emerging MICE hub. With its strategic location, growing economies, and increasing investments, MEA offers tremendous potential for business travel growth.

Factors Driving the Growth of Emerging Markets:

Several factors contribute to the growth of these emerging markets. Favorable economic conditions, including steady growth in global GDP, provide a conducive environment for business travel. Additionally, increased investments in infrastructure and initiatives by governments to support business events help attract global conferences and exhibitions to these regions. Furthermore, sectors such as finance, pharmaceuticals, and technology are thriving, driving demand for in-person networking and events. As noted in the above-referenced Escalent market research study, we can expect the top 10 industries participating in business travel in 2024 to be the following along with their reasoning for travel:

  • Pharmaceuticals (MICE)
  • Technology and IT (MICE)
  • Financial Services (Meetings, Incentives and Conferences)
  • Construction (MICE)
  • Automobile (MICE)
  • Manufacturing (MICE)
  • Professional Services and Consulting (Meetings, Incentives and Conferences)
  • Insurance (Meetings, Incentives and Conferences)
  • Renewable Energy (MICE)
  • Education (Meetings and Conferences)

Emerging Markets Sparking Business Travel: What does it mean for Global Mobility?

As the business travel industry makes a strong recovery, emerging markets are set to play a significant role in shaping its future. The Asia-Pacific region, led by China and India, offers immense growth opportunities. Meanwhile, the Middle East and Africa region displays impressive recovery rates and the potential to become a major MICE hub. These emerging markets, driven by favorable economic conditions, infrastructure development, and thriving sectors, present exciting prospects for the Global Mobility industry to tap into the growing demand for business travel and program management. By recognizing and prioritizing these markets, businesses can position themselves for success in a recovering industry.

It’s important to have a Global Mobility partner you can trust to help you manage your mobile employees! Reach out to Ineo today to discuss how we can enhance your Global Mobility programs with the Ineo Platform, the leading Global Mobility Software, and our Tax and Financial Services.

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