12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
David Moore, of Midlands-based Travel Management Group, says the budget's focus on supporting SMEs should lead to a rise in business travel...
The pre-election budget was always going to be a bit of a party political broadcast by Labour, followed by the predictable damning reviews by the other parties.
But looking beyond the hyperbole, I think this budget looks pretty encouraging for the business travel sector.
Chancellor Alistair Darling announced a number of measures to help SMEs in particular - including a £2.5bn package to boost skills and innovation, a one-year business rate cut for 500,000 firms and tax relief for growing niche sectors such as the video games industry.
And although there were good and bad elements in relatively equal measure, I think the backing of SMEs - and other businesses - will help continue the recovery of business travel.
Personally, I think SMEs will lead us out the recession and so it's quite an exciting development that the focus of this budget seems to be on supporting and speed up their recovery.
The feeling I've had recently from business events and meetings in our sector is that there is a growing consensus that business travel is picking up at a quicker rate than expected - and this budget may provide companies with the boost they need to start investing again in UK, European and international business trips.
The measure to help niche UK industries - such as video gaming - is very wise. The video games market alone contributes £1bn to the GDP and the sector continues to grow in Asia, America and Europe, so there are major opportunities for business travel as the UK becomes a market leader.
Overall, I feel the budget has done enough for businesses to start feeling positive again and encourage the domestic and international growth that will aid the business travel sector.
However, I'm disappointed the Government failed to redress mistakes from the previous budget, such as the air passenger duty (APD) rise due in November.
It will hurt both travel companies and their customers. We had hoped this issue would have been addressed.
We've seen some very positive figures, as recently as this week, showing that there has been a considerable rise in holiday bookings for this summer.
The Government should have avoided introducing any measure that would hinder that rise.