The oracle of travel herself, Bonnie Smith, identifies the hubs of South African business travellers in the last quarter of 2023, and all bets are on them for 2024 too.
“Economic ties, trade partnerships and flight routes play a big role in the popularity of overseas destinations for South African business travellers,” says Smith, the general manager and mastermind behind FCM Travel.
“And let me tell you, these three locations check all the boxes.”
Ah, the UK, a classic choice that never goes out of style for South African business travellers.
According to the travel crystal ball, professionals are flocking to the UK for 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 Smith.
The love affair goes beyond convenience. The UK and South Africa share more than just a penchant for tea and rugby; they have robust economic ties.
Trading goodies like minerals and agricultural products, South African businesses have left their mark in sectors such as finance, manufacturing, telecoms and mining across the UK.
Here’s a heads-up for your travel checklist: A Global Business Travel study predicts a 9% surge in room prices in London.
Stay ahead of the game by locking in the supplier negotiations ASAP. Or better yet, lean on your travel management company to navigate the rising costs.
The city-state is not just a dot on the map; it’s a thriving hub for South African business travellers. The magic lies in its evolving relationship with Africa.
Back in 2018, only 60 Singaporean companies had their eyes on Africa. Fast forward to today, and more than 155 are in the mix, making Singapore one of Africa’s top 10 investors.
In a plot twist that even Hollywood would envy, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made waves in May 2023 with a significant trip to Africa and a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The result? Substantial agreements in tech, sustainability and skills development. Trade relations are soaring too, with a whopping $14.38 billion exchanged in 2022.
No wonder South African business travellers are donning their explorer hats and heading to Singapore, where opportunities are ripe and partnerships are popping like champagne corks.
Additionally, Singapore is a food lover’s haven. Hawker centres offer a variety of affordable and delectable dishes, reflecting the city-state’s multicultural culinary heritage. Don’t miss the famous chilli crab or laksa.
Quick tip for your travel diary: March might not be the best time to book your stay in Singapore. Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is hitting town, and hotels are turning into gold mines.
If you’re not a die-hard Swiftie, hold off on your trip, save some moolah, and treat yourself to Raffles’ new villa-style spa and resort on Sentosa Island.
United Arab Emirates
In June 2023, the Dubai International Chamber opened an office in Johannesburg. The move aimed to make it easier for businesses from both places to get together and do business.
The chamber has more than 70 South African companies on its list, a 77% increase since 2016. South Africa happens to be the UAE top trading partner in Africa, which is probably why it has become a hot destination for South
“Part of the reason for the 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 Smith.
Besides the business aspect, the UAE, especially Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is synonymous with luxury. From the world’s only seven-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab, to extravagant shopping malls like the Dubai Mall, the UAE offers a taste of the high life.