- Europe is the most popular business travel location in the globe. The new ETIAS visa waiver will soon be required for all business trips to the Schengen Area.
- According to business travel data, the number of tourists to Europe for meetings and conferences is increasing. What impact will the new ETIAS visa waiver have on business travel inside the Schengen Area?
Corporate travel has long been an important component of foreign tourism in Europe. Attending business meetings and company gatherings has become increasingly prevalent as international travel has become faster and more affordable.
Entrepreneurs have also demonstrated a readiness to go to European countries to attend conferences and stay up to speed on the newest global trends, frequently using the trip to find somewhere new.
The planned European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will make European corporate travel safer than ever before. Before departing, passengers will just need to complete a brief online form.
ETIAS FOR BUSINESS TRAVELLERS
Many nations’ business travellers will soon be able to take advantage of the new European visa waiver. The European Travel Information and Authorisation System, which will become a required entry requirement in November 2023, will be unveiled.
The ETIAS visa waiver is being implemented to improve security throughout the Schengen Area. The technology would prescreen visitors before they arrive in Europe, allowing authorities to deny entry to anybody who poses a threat to the public’s health and safety.
ETIAS will be valid for business purposes, such as attending a meeting, conference, or other event. It cannot, however, be used to obtain paid employment in a European nation. To do so, a work permit from the relevant EU country is necessary.
BENEFITS OF THE ETIAS VISA WAIVER FOR PROFESSIONALS
The following are the advantages of the ETIAS visa waiver for business travel:
- Apply just once every 3 years for multiple trips to Europe (unless the passport expires)
- Stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days per 180-day period
- The same permit is valid for all Schengen countries
- Fast and efficient online ETIAS application process
- Electronically linked to the passport, no need to carry around a physical permit
- Increased safety across Schengen nations
Business travellers from countries that are not part of the visa-free regime must get a Schengen visa from an embassy or consulate. Furthermore, certain EU nations provide digital nomad visas that are appropriate for some remote professionals.
BUSINESS TRAVEL TO EUROPE IN 2022
After the COVID-19 epidemic, the globe is also returning to normalcy. Most travel restrictions are being decreased or eliminated entirely.
Business travellers are increasingly coming to Europe for meetings, conferences, and other events. Although visitor numbers are still lower than in 2019, statistics on business travellers show an improving trend.
According to one poll, Europe is the most popular business trip location. 37% stated Europe will be their first business travel in 2022, followed by Asia (28%), and North America (26%).
This is hardly unexpected given the EU’s abundance of corporate centres and major MICE destinations. Madrid, for example, has been voted the World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination for the last three years in a row by the World Travel Awards.
Business travellers from visa-exempt nations can visit Europe without a visa until the end of 2022. ETIAS will be available in November 2023.
IS BREXIT AFFECTING BUSINESS TRAVEL IN EUROPE?
Some British professionals have already expressed worry about the impact of Brexit on European tourism.
For UK passport holders, business travel to the EU after Brexit has not altered much. There is still no need for a visa to enter the EU or Schengen Area nations.
The only significant difference is that there is now a time limit, although a high one, on how much time British nationals may stay in Europe. Brits can stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. This covers work trips and vacations in any of the 26 member countries.
Brits will also need to register with ETIAS in order to benefit from visa-free travel beginning in November 2023.
HOW DOES COVID-19 AFFECT BUSINESS TRAVEL TO EUROPE IN 2022?
From 2020 to 2022, the coronavirus pandemic had a significant influence on worldwide business travel statistics. Travel limitations made business travel impracticable at times, while the requirements were confusing at others.
The situation has much improved and continues to improve. The majority of European countries have decreased or eliminated travel restrictions.
Some European nations may still require business travellers to satisfy particular standards, such as:
- Vaccine certificate or COVID passport
- Test negative for COVID-19 before travelling
- Take a test on arrival
- Complete a health declaration form
Quarantine is not usually required if the business traveller is fully vaccinated or tests negative. However, limits might vary, so it is best to verify the laws for the specific place before travelling.
ARE ONLINE MEETINGS THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS TRAVEL IN EUROPE?
Companies have resorted to technology: videoconferencing and virtual meetings are now commonplace for millions of employees.
As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, many organisations have moved to online solutions. Some business owners increasingly prefer virtual meetings over sending their personnel abroad to save time and money.
However, according to Statista statistics, the pandemic has not had a substantial negative influence on business travel trends to the EU.
More respondents in the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom stated they still preferred face-to-face encounters. In-person meetings were preferred by 40% of Americans, while 30% said that contemporary technology rendered business visits outdated. The gap was 45% among Germans vs 28% of those polled, and 36% versus 27% among British.
Meeting a customer or boss in person still has advantages, and massive networking events are not the same online.
On the other side, prominent financial companies such as HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, and ABN Amro have said unequivocally that they would dramatically cut the amount of business trips taken by their workers. Noel Quinn, CEO of HSBC, has stated that his own travel will be reduced by at least 50%.
CHEAPER, GREENER EUROPEAN CORPORATE TRIPS
Keeping costs down and reducing their carbon footprint are high priorities for many businesses.
There is a general preference for longer, fewer stays abroad. By planning meetings smartly, business people will be able to achieve the same goals while taking fewer trips (and filling out fewer health declaration forms.)
Some companies such as ABN Amro are switching to train travel rather than flying between European offices with good train links.
The ETIAS visa waiver will soon be available for those who do continue to go overseas for work. Non-EU business visitors will benefit from the increased security of the travel authorisation.
BUSINESS TRAVEL IN EUROPE: STATISTICS
Statistics demonstrate the significance of business travel to the EU and the world economy.
According to the European Union Tourism Trends Report, in 2016:
- Business and professional trips made up 15% of international tourists in EU destinations and 12% in extra-EU destinations
- 91.7 million international tourists visited Europe for business and professional reasons (77.1 million within the EU-28)
- Global business and professional trips totalled 176 million (out of a total of 1,239 million)
According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) research, corporate expenditure is very crucial in some European nations. In 2017, the top beneficiaries were (in USD):
corporate travel in Spain
Although corporate travel to Europe was certainly severely impacted by the pandemic in 2020, current predictions predict that business arrivals will recover to around 83% of this amount in 2022 and 2023, and will approach pre-COVID levels by 2025.
The impacts of Brexit on professional travels to the UK have still to be seen, but London is expected to remain an important international commercial centre.
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES IN EUROPE
The following international business conferences are planned to take place in European nations in 2022:
- IMEX FRANKFURT, Frankfurt, Germany (31 May – 02 June 2022)
- M&I VIP CONNECT EUROPE, Madeira, Portugal (29 May – 1 June 2022)
- ALTS DIGITAL, Prague, Czech Republic (08 – 09 June 2022)
- M&I EUROPE AUTUMN, Porto, Portugal (August 31 – September 3, 2022)
- MICE PLACE CITY LYON, Lyon, France (22 September 2022)
- M&I PRIVATE EUROPE, Dubrovnik, Croatia (9 – 12 October 2022)
- IBTM WORLD, Barcelona, Spain (November 29 – December 1, 2022)
- BEA WORLD FESTIVAL, Milano, Italy (December 2022)
This is only a tiny sample of the hundreds of conferences, congresses, and conventions held around Europe each year, encompassing a wide range of subjects and areas of expertise.
International gatherings can give important networking possibilities that cannot be replicated virtually. As a result, business travel to attend conferences is expected to return to some extent following COVID-19.