June 13, 2024
Business Tourism

Business Tourism: An Emerging Trend Boosting Local Economies

Business travel refers to travel undertaken for the purpose of conducting business or attending meetings, conferences, trade shows and other work-related events. With growing globalization and expansion of businesses internationally, business travel has seen tremendous growth in recent years. More companies are hosting events overseas and sending employees abroad for client meetings, negotiations and collaboration. This has opened up new opportunities for tourism destinations worldwide.

Rise of MICE Tourism

Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, collectively known as MICE tourism, are a key driver of business travel. Many places are now actively promoting their MICE infrastructure like convention centers, conference hotels and business-friendly facilities to attract more corporate events. Large international exhibition centers in cities like Singapore, Dubai and Vienna host some of the biggest trade shows annually, bringing in huge revenues. Associations and event organizers are also expanding globally, contributing to rise in cross-border MICE travel. Various industry reports estimate global MICE tourism to grow at over 5% annually in medium term due to rising number of small and medium business events.

Economic Impact on Destinations

Destinations benefiting substantially from Business Tourism include cities like Singapore, Paris, Barcelona, Shanghai, Bangkok and Sydney. Corporate events and incentives programs involving air travel, accommodation, dining, entertainment and local transportation boost the economy of host destinations significantly. According to estimates, spending per business traveler is double that of leisure visitors. Many destinations are offering subsidies, tax benefits and custom packages to tap into this high-spending segment. Business visitors also tend to stay longer in cities compared to leisure tourists, injecting more money into local businesses. Some studies show business travel accounting for 15-30% of total tourism receipts in major financial hubs.

Role of Digital Technologies

Digital technologies are revolutionizing many aspects of business travel including event planning, destination marketing and attendee experience. Rising use of virtual and hybrid events allows participation from worldwide locations at lower costs. Destinations are leveraging digital channels, mobile apps, VR and AR for strong global promotion. Live streaming and post-event videos extend engagement of absent attendees as well. Technologies like big data are helping event organizers better understand attendee demographics, interests and spending patterns for impactful offerings. Destination management organizations are utilizing AI, IoT and blockchain to customize experience and tap new opportunities. This digital transformation is attracting more millennial travelers and startups to conferences and networking events.

Developing Business Tourism Infrastructure

Countries with emerging economies are implementing strategies to develop business travel as a means of diversifying their sources of foreign exchange earnings and job creation. Many are investing heavily in infrastructure development, such as expansive new convention centers, top-end accommodation, and specialized medical, financial and legal facilities. Improving air and road connectivity for fly-in conferences and events is another area of focus. Development of supporting industries like tourism education, MICE consultancy and event technology is creating local expertise and services. Streamlining tax and visa rules, providing conference subsidies and infrastructure funding can help developing destinations compete better in attracting regional and global corporate business. City branding and marketing internationally is also vital build image as preferred MICE locations.

Sustainable Practices

With rising environmental concerns, sustainability has become an important aspect of business travel management, especially for large-scale events. Many destinations and industry players have introduced sustainability programs and certification to minimize ecological footprint of conferences and traveling executives. Use of renewable energy sources, green buildings, reductions in paper usage and plastic waste are notable practices. Local sourcing of food and decor materials supports community businesses as well. Innovation in zero-emission transport, carbon-neutral accommodation and digital communications for virtual participation can help make business travel greener overall. Engagement of stakeholders across supply chain on sustainability goals bodes well for community relations and destination branding too in long-term.

Business tourism has emerged as a vibrant sector with potential to promote economic and infrastructure development globally. Its continuing growth is driven by digitalization and rising frequency of international cooperation in various industries. While major financial centers have consolidated their positions as leading MICE destinations, many other places are effectively leveraging business travel opportunities through strategic investments and innovative practices. Adoption of sustainability in business events will help destinations attract responsible corporates and balancing tourism development with environmental stewardship in future.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.