The three industries most looking to restart travel

Updated: Sep 5

TALENT MOBILITY: The post-Covid resurrection of business travel has been slow and cautious, and also mixed according to different demographics.

As Chief of Staff Asia’s latest research paper explains, there is a clear gap between the expectations of previously well-heeled staff, and those charged with managing the resumption of business travel and its associated risks.


According to the Global Business Travel Association, spending on corporate travel nose-dived across the Asia Pacific region by 48% in 2020. It picked up only fractionally in 2021. Given that the region was both the largest and the fastest-growing market for business travel, many on both sides of the travel budget are starting to agitate for decreased Covid-related restrictions in order to reanimate the region’s economy.


There are, of course, different levels of urgency across different industries.


Notable figures for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions-related tourism are leading the charge. A recent summit held in Singapore — which reopened its borders in April — brought together government officials alongside local, regional and global MICE organisers. There. The President of UFI, a trade group representing global exhibition organisers, made her view clear. “There is a need to reopen for business travel, to allow the international marketplaces that welcome buyers and delegates,” she insisted.


According to Ramesh Daryanani, Vice President of Global Sales with Marriott Asia Pacific, his colleagues across the globe have seen an increase in bookings, and expect the hotels in its Asia region to follow suit soon. “The desire to stay connected with each other has always been in the back of people’s minds,” he says. “Covid-19 made face-to-face impossible, so the industry adapted to hybrid meetings and other virtual activities to stay connected. With travel and social gathering restrictions easing, the pent-up demand for face-to-face meetings is set to accelerate.”


Alongside tourism industry advocates, the manufacturing and technology sectors are also urging for a bounce-back. Pre-pandemic, these industries were the key markets driving business travel, and they continue to dominate the charts as Southeast Asia markets reopen at varying rates.


Chris Russell, from Argyll Scott, welcomes the return of these overseas travellers, noting that demand is still high for long-term creative talent who can drive growth in these sectors. “We have started to see a trickle of new expats make the move to Southeast Asia over the last year or so, and this number will (continue to) grow,” he said. “Big brands are back in action. The huge demand for highly skilled tech, manufacturing, and tourism jobs hasn't gone away.”


China’s loss, resulting from its continuing self-imposed isolation, may be Southeast Asia’s gain. Many large companies are now looking favourably at Southeast Asia's centrality and low wage and production costs. With the supply chain for many products severely threatened at the height of Covid-19, the region's most prominent manufacturing centres have rebounded strongly as economies across the globe have reopened and demand for critical products increases. Of course, key hirings in the manufacturing sector are required to fill skill shortages, and HR teams will need to be on their toes to ensure these postings are filled, whether locally or using expatriates.


This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's report on Talent Mobility. For further coverage, and access to the full report, please see any of the below links:


On the Road Again: Talent Mobility in the New Normal (full report)

Staff mobility enjoys a cautious rebuild: Chief of Staff research (news highlight)

What's driving the cautious recovery in business travel? (feature)

Primary drivers for international assignments (data analysis)

Refresh needed for travel and mobility policies (feature)

Business travel trends: Working on holiday or on holiday at work (feature)

Expatriate package costs in Southeast Asia (infographic)

The three industries where staff are most looking to restart business travel (feature)

Delving into the future of talent mobility (infographic)

Agility and flexibility in need for post Covid business travel (wrap-up)


This Chief of Staff Asia research paper has been proudly supported by the following Chief of Staff Asia partners:


Santa Fe Relocation


Santa Fe Relocation is a Global Mobility company specialising in managing and delivering high-quality relocation services worldwide.







ECA International



ECA International is the world's leading provider of knowledge, information and software for the management and assignment of employees worldwide.

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