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The World’s Most Popular Hubs For Business Travel

Does your job regularly take you to different corners of the globe? Some destinations make more sense for face-to-face business meets than others. Most people enjoy getting out of the office once in a while and doing some travelling. In addition to breaking the office and work monotony, traveling for business offers many opportunities – from gaining extra work experience to establishing new business connections.

As the world of business travel gets slowly back to normal, we take a look at the most popular business travel destinations, helping you connect with partners, clients and colleagues wherever you are in the world, including the most connected airports for travel.

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Business travel is back but has still not reached 2019 levels / GETTY IMAGES

The world’s most popular business travel destinations

Over the last two years business travel has experienced unparalleled disruption. The COVID-19 pandemic grounded flights across the globe and imposed restrictions that meant international businesses had to find new, often virtual, ways to collaborate.

In 2022 business travel is back for professionals and digital nomads, but has still not reached 2019 levels, predicted to hit only 55% of pre-pandemic spend by the end of the year.

What’s happening with business travel now?

By late 2019, research by Deloitte suggested that one third of travel managers had plans for business travel to return to 50% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of year. However, as new COVID-19 variants delta and omicron began to spread, only 8% of businesses managed to hit this mark.

According to our recent research ‘Worldwide work weeks‘, where we listed the best countries to work abroad, expats will need to consider factors like paid time off, working hours and minimum wages as they vary wildly from place to place. When making the decision to up sticks and move to another country for work, expats may be surprised by the level of workplace benefits differing from what they’re used to. That said, a slow return to normality is still on the cards, with Europe looking to be one of the first areas to return to, or exceed, pre-pandemic levels of business travel.

So, what are the world’s most popular business travel destinations now?

Leading destinations for business travellers in 2021 included:

Country

Number of visits in 2021 (in 1,000s)*

France
215.3
Ireland
127.6
Germany
113.3
Spain
109.0
Netherlands
89.3
Italy
72.1
United States
70.1
Belgium
43.4
Switzerland
38.4
Poland
36.6

*Statista data published 4th July 2022

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France is one of the world’s most popular business travel destinations

Welcoming over 11 million business travellers every year, France is one of the most popular international hubs for global business. This is especially true for British business travellers, who enjoy the advantage of close proximity and relatively low travel fares.

Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport is one of the top 10 best-connected airports in the world, making France easily accessible from all continents.

France has the seventh largest economy in the world, with major industries including energy, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, technology and transport. The country is home to Peugeot and Renault. It is also leading in the aerospace sector as producers of Airbus.

Sophia Antipolis is the largest technology park in France. Situated in Valbonne, the business hub houses a number of leading technology firms including Amadeus, Air France, Accenture, Broadcom, Cisco, Intel, IBM and Orange.

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Ireland is one of the world’s top business travel destinations

Ireland is a prime location for trade, acting as a gateway between the UK, Europe and US markets. With Dublin only an hour by air from London and 90 minutes from Paris and Brussels, Ireland also makes a logical connection between other business capitals and international airports.

The total number of business trips to Ireland increased by 53,000 trips to just under 1.5 million trips between 2018 and 2019 – a rise of 3.7%.

With a knowledge-based economy, Ireland’s top industries include technology, life sciences, financial services, ICT and agri-food. Over 1,000 leading global companies have operations based in Ireland, including Google, Apple, Facebook, PayPal, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay and Twitter.

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COVID-19 caused unparalleled disruption to business travel / GETTY IMAGES

Germany is one of the world’s top business travel destinations

Germany is Europe’s largest economy, ranking fourth in the world by GDP. The country hosts 53 of the largest 2000 publicly listed companies by revenue globally, making it an essential business destination. Frankfurt am Main (FRA) airport was named the best connected international airport in 2019, with Munich (MUC) coming in 8th.

Germany is internationally recognised for its production of electronics, machinery and automotive and brings in around €1.4 trillion euros in exports every year. Primary exports include motor vehicles, vehicle parts, aircraft and spacecraft, and packaged medicines.

The Germans lead in the European automotive industry in both production and trade, being home to Bayerische Motorenwerke (BMW), Daimler-Benz and Volkswagen. Meanwhile, the German chemical industry is a worldwide leader in medical exports. These include pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, machinery and other hospital equipment.

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Europe looking to be one of the first areas to return to, or exceed, pre-pandemic levels of business travel / GETTY IMAGES

Spain is one of the world’s most popular business travel destinations

The number of international business travellers to Spain reached close to 2 million in 2021, after a drop of 75% in 2020. Pre-pandemic, Spain saw highs of 5.4 million business travellers a year.

Spain boasts affordable accommodation and travel costs, making it an appealing destination for business professionals travelling in from different countries and continents.

The economy of Spain ranks 14th in the world, with a GDP of $1.2 trillion euros as of 2021. Major industries driving the Spanish economy include tourism, manufacturing, agriculture and energy. Pharmaceutical and automobiles are the country’s primary exports, with many automobile manufacturing giants having operations in Spain. These include Daimler AG, Ford, General Motors, Renault and Nissan.

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Netherlands is on the list of the world’s top business travel destinations

A gateway into the European market, the Netherlands boasts a high trade surplus and a stable business climate. The 6th largest economy in the European Union, the Netherlands is also the 13th freest economy in the world due its openness to global trade and investment. It is also among the best countries in terms of technology and innovation.

Amsterdam-Schiphol (AMS) international airport is the third best-connected airport in the world, allowing easy access from all over the globe.

Some of the most profitable sectors in the Netherlands include agri-food, information technology, chemicals, high-tech systems and materials (HTSM), life sciences and health and creative industries.

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Italy is one of the world’s most popular business travel destinations

As the eighth largest economy in the world, and the third largest economy in the European Union, Italy is an attractive investment destination with well-established business infrastructure. The country’s location is also significant, offering a strategic gateway between Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Pre-pandemic, Italy welcomed over 15 million business travellers every year. In 2020 that figure dropped to 9.2 million, but there has already been a strong recovery of 17.4%, which saw the country welcome around 11 million business tourists in 2021.

Tourism accounts for approximately 11.8% of Italy’s GDP. However the north-west region of Italy, linking Milan, Turn and Genoa, is known as “The Industrial Triangle”, and is home to Italy’s high-performing manufacturing industries focused on naval production, machinery, aerospace and automobiles.

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It's important to find a location that is easily accessible from all corners of the globe / GETYY IMAGES

What are the best-connected airports for business travel?

When choosing a destination for business travel, one of the most important factors is connectivity. If you’re looking to meet with partners and colleagues from different countries, and even continents, it’s important to find a location that is easily accessible from all corners of the globe.

Other important factors for business travel include cost of travel, travel restrictions and willingness to interact in person.

These are the world’s best-connected airports based on connecting flights:

Airport

Number of connecting flights *

Frankfurt am Main (FRA)
78,773
Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
62,093
Amsterdam-Schiphol (AMS)
58,263
Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
47,556
Atlanta (ATL)
44,108
Istanbul (IST)
41,539
Denver (DEN)
38,807
Munich (MUC)
36,058
Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
34,656
London Heathrow (LHR)
33,904

*Data collected in 2019

Enjoy safer business travel with William Russell

William Russell’s international health insurance policy is designed with seasoned business travellers in mind. The first step to safe business travel is to take out a comprehensive global health insurance plan that will protect you anywhere in the world.

At William Russell, we have been providing worldwide health cover for 30 years, helping expats and business travellers live and work with total peace of mind. Speak to us today to find out more about how international health insurance could support you.

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