By Andy Sambidge
Region is seeing 'marked growth' in business related travel from India, China.
Tough economic conditions have hit the Middle East more than anticipated, but it remains a popular market to do business, according to international corporate travel services company HRG.
Despite the International Monetary Fund's recent decision to revise down 2009 forecasts for the region, 2010 predictions remain robust and HRG believes excellent flight connections and investment in infrastructure and accommodation, means the market is well-placed to emerge stronger from the current downturn.
On behalf of HRG Middle East West Asia (MEWA), Iain Andrew, divisional senior vice president, Dnata Travel Services said: "Continued investment in infrastructure, a varied and high quality hotel offering and an emerging reputation as a hub for international business mean that the Middle East is well-placed to emerge from the recession as a leading corporate travel destination."
HRG said it has seen corporates in the Middle East readily adopt new working practices to help them remain nimble in the current climate, with many switching to online booking tools and services in a bid to achieve more control over budgets.
It said Europe continued to be by far the biggest originator of corporate travel to the Middle East, but there had been a "marked growth in demand" from India, China and South America.
HRG MEWA also reported a year-on-year increase in the number of enquiries related to the Events and Meetings Management market in the Middle East, without giving figures.
"Continued investment in hotels is increasing supply and the introduction of lower cost hotels, such as Dubai?s new Premier Inn, is helping to balance out the region's expensive hotel rates," HRG added.
"This has created a new benchmark for value for money in the Middle East and means that corporate travellers are well placed to negotiate better rates. The notable exception is Abu Dhabi, which is reflecting trends previously seen in Dubai: supply is still struggling to keep pace with demand and rates have increased by an average 5 percent."