Business travel in UAE will revive this year; Asia, Europe preferred destinations - survey

Introduction of technology, clarity on restrictions could help boost confidence

Man in private jet airplane. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Man in private jet airplane. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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Corporate travel could pick up soon, with many in the UAE looking to book a flight for business before the end of the year, according to a new survey. 

More than half of travellers (51 percent) polled by travel technology firm Amadeus said they expect to take a trip for business later in 2021 within the Middle East region. 

The global study includes more than 9,000 consumers across the UAE, France, Germany, India, Spain, Russia, Singapore, the UK and the US. The study sought insights on traveller attitudes and sentiments regarding restrictions, digital health data and sustainable travel.

“The research is welcome news for the travel industry…[It] shows the appetite to travel is high,” Amadeus said in a statement. 

Among those surveyed in the UAE, 73 percent want to travel in the next year. Asia and Europe emerged as the top preferred destinations for UAE travellers, followed by the Middle East. 


Both leisure and corporate travel have been down since the COVID-pandemic started last year. With restrictions easing in several countries around the world, consumers are taking to the skies again. 

A huge part of the travel demand, however, comes from leisure travellers, with experts predicting that it would take a long time for corporate travel to recover. 

“Business travel is critical to many travel providers but will take a long time to return to previous levels after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said McKinsey in a report last year. 

Business-travel spending accounted for about 20 percent of the global travel and hospitality sector prior to the pandemic, exceeding $1.4 trillion in 2018. Corporate travel, which includes transient trips and journeys for meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE), is important for the aviation and hospitality industry not only in traffic but in profitability, McKinsey noted. 

“Because corporate travellers are more willing to purchase higher class or refundable fares, they can drive between 55 and 75 percent of profit for top airlines but account for as few as 10 percent of passengers.” 

How to get people travelling again 

In Amadeus’ survey, findings indicated that greater clarity on restrictions and guidelines, as well as the introduction of technology, will be key to encouraging consumers to travel again. 

More than a third (31 percent) of UAE travellers said the current international guidelines around where and how to travel are still confusing and this makes them less likely to book business or leisure trips. 

However, a significant number of travellers are open to embrace technology and share health data to make their trips more convenient. 

The majority (95 percent) said they would be willing to share personal information for the effective use of digital health passports or certificates. 

Airlines like Emirates are rolling out the IATA Travel Pass across their networks worldwide.  The app enables flyers to manage their trave documents digitally, as well as find information on travel, testing and vaccine requirements for their trip. 

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Daniel Luiz) 

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© ZAWYA 2021

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