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11 May 2013 | Andy Allen
Business travel in the Middle East and North Africa is rebounding after political and economic turmoil in the region over the last two years, according to corporate travel services company Hogg Robinson Group (HRG).
Keith Burgess, HRG company secretary and central services director, said: “The (recent) social-political uprisings were a major blow to regional economies, local markets, and subsequently, the travel business.
“Airlines around the region were forced to reduce services to some areas, while hotel occupancy levels plummeted to single digits in certain markets.”
Since then, however, the consultancy has noticed that travel is picking up, as many countries experience a recovery.
HRG says oil continues to be the biggest draw for foreign business travel but the pharmaceutical, telecommunication and construction sectors are becoming increasingly important.
Abu Dhabi, Oman and Turkey in particular, are establishing themselves as prime destinations for international conferences, aided by key infrastructure enhancements such as new hotels and convention centres.
Burgess added: “Newcomers entering the Middle East and North African markets are also seeing how change can act as a catalyst for increased business opportunity.
“In several markets restrictive legislation has been replaced by more liberal and business-friendly policies, leading to a marked increase in foreign investment and inward corporate travel.”
He said foreign direct investment is having a positive impact on opportunities in Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, though security in these countries remains a significant issue.
☛The CIPS MENA conference takes place in Dubai on 19 May. Visit the website www.cipsmiddleeastconference.com for full details on speakers and how to book your place.