Most UAE professionals reluctant to travel by air for business this year

77% of executives allowed to take business trip this year: Messe Frankfurt

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

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

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Several business executives in the UAE and around the world are now allowed to travel abroad, however, many are not willing to travel by plane, according to a new survey.

In a market survey of more than 4,000 professionals from 130 countries, 77 percent said their company is open for them to go overseas for business by the end of 2020, but only half plan to do so by airplane this year.

Among those in the UAE who have the green light to go on a business trip, the majority (46.7 percent) said they are unlikely to travel before December, while 40.9 percent intends to, lower than the average in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and other regions around the world, the latest survey by Messe Frankfurt showed.

The trade fair, congress and event organiser polled all former visitors and exhibitors of events it had organised, to see if there is an appetite for the events sector to pick up in light of the global pandemic, or how the virus has affected businesses. A total of 4,036 respondents took part in the poll that was conducted from June 22 to 30 this year.

Importance of business trips

The respondents included professionals from various sectors, including auto aftermarket, commercial security, beauty and cosmetics, among others.

Business trips, which can include meeting potential clients attending trade fairs, events and exhibitions, have been considered an important driver for company growth. When coronavirus cases started to spread globally, businesses shunned corporate travel and closed their doors.

With businesses reopening and governments trying to restore a semblance of normality, one of the things being considered is the possibility of resuming exhibitions and sending staff abroad to attend such events.

Why people are afraid to travel

However, according to a recent survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the public’s willingness to travel is being tempered by concerns over the risks of catching coronavirus during the journey.

The majority (58 percent) of those polled by IATA said they have avoided air travel, with 33 percent suggesting that they will avoid travel in the future as a continued measure to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19.

In Messe Frankfurt’s survey, the majority (62 percent) agreed that as the coronavirus recedes and a semblance of normality returns, attending exhibitions will indeed be more important for business (31 percent), or just as important (38 percent) compared to the past.

A further 64 percent said they plan to attend exhibitions in the next eight months, while 36 percent have been permitted to do so before the end of the year.

Global results

Overall, among those allowed to go on a business trip, 50 percent said they are planning to travel by airplane in 2020.

About 34 percent said they are not likely to get on a flight before January 2021, while 7.9 percent said travelling by airplane is unlikely to happen before June 2021.

A small number of respondents (7.1 percent) said they rarely travel by airplane for business.

When asked what would make them feel more confident about attending events, 37.7 percent said the provision of face masks and sanitiser gel for everyone would help. Other respondents also cited strict behavioural regulation at the show by the event organiser (35.1 percent) and vaccines or proper treatment for COVID-10 (34.7 percent) would increase their confidence.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)

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© ZAWYA 2020

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