Business travel expenditure in the Middle East is forecast to rise by 32% this year, according to a report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) published last year.

In terms of business travel spending in 2021, the report ranks the Middle East region first with an increase of 49%, followed by Europe and Africa (36%), Asia Pacific (32%) and the Americas (14%).

The WTTC report said but for 2022, the Asia Pacific region will emerge the global leader with a 41% spend, followed by the Americas with a 35% increase, the Middle East 32%, Europe on 28% and Africa with a 23% rise.

The WTTC report, compiled in collaboration with McKinsey & Company called ‘Adapting to Endemic COVID-19: The Outlook for Business Travel,’ draws on research, analysis and in-depth interviews with travel & tourism business leaders to enable organisations to prepare for corporate travel in the post-pandemic era. It comes ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which will take place in Dubai from May 9 to 12.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME - Arabian Travel Market (ATM), said: "This positive data will provide a welcome boost for business travel and tourism professionals throughout the Middle East region, as economies around the world begin to relax travel restrictions, despite the disruption caused by the outbreak of the Omicron variant."

"During 2021, the increase in business spending for the full year is expected to have actually outpaced spending on leisure travel by 13%, 10% and 1% in the Middle East, Europe and Africa respectively," he stated.

"Aviation experts speaking at ATM 2021, had expected business travel to lag behind leisure travel, but this estimated increase of 32%, comes on top of a predicted rise during 2021 of 49% which although 2020 was a challenging year, the business travel segment is now clearly accelerating towards pre pandemic levels," added Curtis.

According to him, business travel will also be under the spotlight this year on the ATM Global Stage, where the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organisation, Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), will discuss its latest business travel content and research, during two main sessions - ‘The future of business travel’ and ‘Building a sustainable business travel programme’.

Now in its 29th year and working in collaboration with the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) and Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) - formerly the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) - ATM show highlights in 2022 will include, among others, destination summits focused on the key source markets of Saudi Arabia, Russia and India.

One new feature this year will be ATM Travel Tech. Previously called Travel Forward, the rebranded and revamped event will feature the ATM Travel Tech Stage hosting seminars, debates and presentations including pitches from finalists in the brand-new ATM Draper-Aladdin Start-up Competition.

The dedicated [email protected] forum will cover current and future trends for tour operators and attractions, focusing on growing business through marketing, technology, distribution, thought leadership and executive-level connections.

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