Three destinations stand out as hot spots for South African business travellers in 2024: the UK, Singapore, and the UAE. This is according to Bonnie Smith, GM of FCM, who shares they were the most popular international travel destinations for South African business travellers in the last quarter of 2023, and all signs point to this trend continuing in 2024, too.
Bonnie adds, “Economic ties, trade partnerships, and flight routes play a big role in the popularity of overseas destinations for South African business travellers, and these three locations check all the boxes.”
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has always been a top pick for South African business travellers. According to a Statista survey, most professionals heading to the UK are attending client meetings, training sessions, and conferences. “Travelling to the UK for business is doable in 11 hours, and the time difference is convenient. Plus, with over 200 000 South Africans living in the UK, it also offers a chance to combine work with family time for many,” says Bonnie.
Another factor contributing to the UK being a destination of choice is that it shares strong economic ties with South Africa, due to the trade of various goods like minerals and agricultural products. Many South African businesses have a presence in the UK, in sectors such as finance, manufacturing, telecoms, and mining.
Top UK travel tip: According to a Global Business Travel study, room prices in London are projected to rise by 9%. To stay ahead of these increases, Bonnie recommends you prioritise your supplier negotiations as soon as possible.
Singapore’s appeal to South African business travellers is in no small part due to its budding relationship with Africa. In 2018, only 60 Singaporean companies operated in Africa. Fast forward to today, and more than 155 companies can be found on the continent, making Singapore one of Africa’s top ten investors.
Trade relations have also flourished, with the exchange amounting to a substantial $14.38 billion in 2022.
Furthermore, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Africa in May 2023 to meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa. Their discussions culminated in various agreements covering sectors like technology, sustainability, and skills development. Trade relations have also flourished, with the exchange amounting to a substantial $14.38 billion in 2022. So, it’s no wonder South African business travellers are increasingly drawn to Singapore, where business opportunities abound.
Top Singapore travel tip: Hotel costs will spike in March when Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is hitting town. If you’re able to, hold off on your trip and avoid this expensive period.
In June 2023, the Dubai International Chamber (DIC) opened an office in Johannesburg. This move aimed to make it easier for businesses from both places to get together and do business. The chamber has over 70 South African companies on its list, a 77% increase since 2016. South Africa happens to be the UAE’s top trading partner in Africa, which is probably why it’s become a hot destination for South African business travellers in 2023,
“Part of the reason for this increased interest is that Emirates has upped the number of flights to South Africa. From March 2023, the frequency of Emirates flights from South Africa was increased to 42 weekly flights,” says Bonnie.
Top UAE travel tip: Want to be in on the latest advancements in AI? GITEX Global, the biggest tech and start-up show on the planet, will be held in Dubai from 14-18 October 2024.