The Future of Business Travel
A World Travel and Tourism Council study of 82 corporate travel destinations forecasts that by 2032, cities in the Middle East and Africa will dominate the list of popular destinations for international business travel. The top 10 list of forecast destinations is shown below:
- Lagos, Nigeria
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Johannesburg, South Africa
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Warsaw, Poland
- Brussels, Belgium
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Zurich, Switzerland
The report also suggests that the ME and APAC countries will see the biggest jump in business spending by 2032, with Jakarta, Jeddah, Riyadh, Singapore, and Hong Kong SAR in the lead.
Whilst these cities are becoming increasingly popular with business travellers, some may require additional consideration from female travellers.
Much of the world has increased equality for women. However, it is important that these travellers still understand the threats they may face compared to male business travellers.
Lagos is popular among commercial and tourist visitors. Solo travel for females in Lagos is doable however it does present challenges. There are reports that some female travellers can receive negative attention when travelling solo. Street harassment is largely dependant on the area, however catcalling and forms of verbal assertiveness are common experiences. It is advisable to be mindful of your surroundings, and dress conservatively. When leaving a business late at night, if available ask a security guard to walk you to your car. Seek a member of staff and ask for them to assign an officer to escort you.
Nevertheless it is not uncommon for females to travel solo in Lagos. Ride-share apps such as Uber and Bolt are preferred by locals, however it is recommended that foreign travellers pre-book transport through a reputable company or consider ground transportation services from a private assistance company. Public transport is not recommended for solo female travellers.
There are a number of female-run businesses in Lagos including hotels which may provide comfort to female travellers. However, it is best to ensure these are well researched prior to booking. A good hotel with sufficient security is recommended regardless if it accommodates all genders.
Cape Town & Johannesburg, South Africa
Areas of Cape Town and Johannesburg are considered relatively safe, however crime remains the greatest risk to all travellers. Solo travel for females in South Africa is doable however it would not be a preferable option.
Public transport is of poor quality compared to western standards and is limited outside of the city. Uber is available in country and does have security checks in place, however it can be expensive. Licensed and pre-booked vehicles remain recommended. For business travellers it would be advisable to pre-book ground transport with locally vetted drivers. This also mitigates the risk of solo travel after dark.
Solo female travellers have been subject to negative attention when travelling through Cape Town, especially in the market districts and Long Street. However, most cafés and restaurants are frequented by solo travellers and are considered safe. A good hotel with sufficient security is recommended regardless if it accommodates all genders.
Rolling blackouts are common across all of South Africa so it is advisable to take precautions for any communication failures.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Women visiting Riyadh experience greater risk than male travellers due to its cultural norms. Women are required to have a ‘male guardian’ accompany them on travel to Saudi Arabia. Women should remain considerate of local traditions and customs at all times. Public displays of affection are discouraged and women are unlikely to be offered a hand to shake during business meetings. It is not uncommon for men to avoid addressing women and go via their male companion.
Foreign women travellers are given more leniency than local women, however it remains recommended to follow local customs and dress as local women (such as abayas and hijabs). Local women are often open to connecting and providing helpful tips. Speaking with other female travellers based in Riyadh is good as part of your pre-trip research and allows you to build a good social network. Gender segregation is a key part of the culture in Riyadh and it is likely to find male/female only sections.
Although most Saudi males are respectful, there are some reports of harassment and negative attention. It is advisable to stay alert, abide by local customs and ignore interest from curious bystanders.
Public transport is not advisable for female travellers, even with a male companion. Ride-share apps such as Uber and Bolt are available and are a convenient and popular mode of transport. Despite this, it remains preferable to use licensed and pre-booked ground transport, especially if a solo female traveller.
Although hotels can be booked individually, certain amenities such as swimming pools may come with gender-related restrictions.
Singapore is a relatively safe country for solo travellers. Singapore is considered a very welcoming country and locals are reported to be polite to international guests. Singapore consistently ranks high in safety standards with low crime rates.
Female travellers are reminded to check any medication that they wish to take into Singapore as there are strict rules on medicines allowed into the country. For any tours of temples and religious sites it is advisable to cover the skin and dress conservatively out of respect. There are also some laws that are considered unfamiliar to westerners that need to be taken into consideration in Singapore, if not followed you could be arrested;
- Chewing gum is banned (both chewing it in Singapore and bringing it into the country, so throw it all away before border control!)
- Littering is punished harshly
- Do not consume alcohol in public places and avoid public intoxication
- Do not eat or drink on public transportation
- Flush the toilet after use
- Do not jaywalk
- Smoking is strictly prohibited in many areas, including most indoor and some outdoor spaces
- Do not bring cigarettes into the country
- Drug regulations are some of the strictest in the world
There are a number of recommended accommodation options for solo female travellers which are readily available on online forums and female traveller sites. A hotel with good quality security is always recommended, regardless of mixed genders.
Amsterdam is considered a safe, fun and easy destination to navigate, ranking 11th out of 60 cities worldwide for safety. Although, there can be areas frequented by tourists where you are likely to come across drunk and disorderly travellers. It is recommended to avoid the Red Light District after dark as a solo traveller. Coffeeshops in Amsterdam are typically areas where you can buy marijuana based products; it is advisable to avoid taking part in this Dutch culture as a solo traveller and especially if undertaking business in country.
Public transport, bicycles and walking are popular forms of transport, with many locations being within walking distance. Despite this, pre-booked transport is always recommended.
Warsaw is generally safe for solo female travellers. However, as in most large cities it is possible to encounter individual instances of harassment and petty crimes. There is a heavy police presence in the city centre who are reported to be helpful.
Public transport, bicycles and walking are popular forms of transport and considered relatively safe. Nevetheless, pre-booked transport is always recommended. Public transportation is frequently used by lone travellers however it is important to remain cautious and avoid transport hubs that are poorly lit.
Drink spiking is widely reported in Poland; standard awareness of your surroundings should be in place whilst travelling.
Brussels is generally safe for solo female travellers. However, similar to above in Poland it is possible to encounter individual instances of harassment and petty crime. There is a strong police presence in the city centre who are reported to be helpful.
Public transport and rideshare apps are popular forms of transport and are relatively safe. Pre-booked transport is always recommended especially if travelling through less secure and remote neighbourhoods. Some local neighbourhoods have seen reports of harassment and catcalling towards solo females.
Sweden is recognised as a relatively safe destination for solo female travellers. Locals are helpful and Stockholm experiences a low risk of crime.
The country is very progressive and as such women often experience safe travel. Despite this, normal travel safety precautions should be implemented. Sweden has described its culture as socially awkward and as such it is not uncommon for people to avoid eye contact when out in public.
Public transport and rideshare apps are popular forms of transport and are relatively safe. Pre-booked transport is always recommended especially if travelling through less secure and remote neighbourhoods.
Sweden does have a high reported rate of sexual assaults. This has sparked calls from locals for stricter laws and support systems, however it is also important to understand that victim reporting and police investigations differ by country so comparison is subjective.
Zurich is recognised as a relatively safe destination for solo female travellers. Locals are helpful and the city experiences a low risk of crime.
The country is very progressive and as such women often experience safe travel. There have been infrequent reports of bag snatching in some local neighbourhoods, therefore a cross-body bag is recommended to mitigate against this threat. Normal travel safety precautions should be implemented.
Public transport is a popular forms of transport and are relatively safe. As always, pre-booked transport is always recommended especially if travelling through less secure and remote neighbourhoods.
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