The business traveler books his flight and hotel accommodation in advance
One type of visitor whose classification among tourists creates controversy is the business traveler. As the name implies, a business traveler is an individual who visits a country for business purposes.
The matter he comes to conduct may be a feasibility study, a market study or a conference. Other business tourists come to escort goods or negotiate deals.
For some schools of thought, classifying such people as tourists undermines the very concept of tourism. The argument is advanced that tourism is essentially recreational.
Thus, anything that triggers a tourist trip should have a ‘get away from it all’. In other words, the relaxation component in the motive of a trip is essential to qualify as tourism-related.
The then International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO), later known as World
The Tourism Organization (WTO) and now the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) describes the definition of a traveler as: “any person who visits a country other than that in which he has his usual residence for any reason other than pursuing a paid occupation. from within the country visited”
This definition has served as a reference point for many countries to define who is a tourist. UNWTO also defines the purposes of travel as: leisure, recreation, holidays, health, study, religion, business, visiting friends and family (VFR), etc.
A key consideration in the definition is that the visitor should not be paid by the country visited during his/her stay.
To illustrate, if Julian Nagelsmann of Bayern Munich were ever to become coach of the Black Stars, he cannot be considered a tourist because he came here to work. But also, and most importantly, he is being paid by the state.
On the contrary, if Julian Nagelsmann is here for a short time as part of the German government’s technical assistance to Ghana, he qualifies as a tourist of sorts.
From our previous breakdown of types of tourists, it becomes clear that the purpose of tourism-related visits can be anything from health to sports. Why then is the business traveler the only one who seems to bear the burden of “not really a tourist”?
First, the business traveler is not usually visible. One is unlikely to bump into a business traveler on the streets of, say, Axim, Hohoe or Bolgatanga. Such a tourist is most likely a backpacker.
The backpacker is the tourist who chooses to go on a low budget. He aims to experience as much people and places as possible. The backpacker is the one who will share a trotro ride and eat lunch at the chop bar.
In contrast, the business traveler is a major exponent of what is known as urban tourism (or MICE which we will discuss at another time). Basically, he is about the business of the city. The contacts, services and infrastructure he seeks are usually only available in cities. The schedule of the business traveler consists of meetings, industrial routines, transfer of funds and the like.
Another reason is that the business traveler may have a shorter length of stay compared to other types of visitors. However, it is also important to note that the business traveler may visit a country more regularly than other types of tourists. The holiday visitor, for example, can only visit during their annual leave.
A key argument in support of the business traveler as a tourist is that he enjoys the same services and facilities as other tourists. He uses travel agents, airlines and stays in a hotel. The business traveler eats dinner at the restaurant and when schedules allow, he also goes to the beach and night club. Therefore, in a sense, it becomes difficult to separate the business elements from the leisure element of his visit.
To understand the business traveler, it is useful to focus on its main characteristics. This is the fact that he is a big spender. Unlike other tourists, he usually has all his travel expenses paid for by corporate interests.
Although its spending is usually confined to large cities, it is quite significant for the larger economy in the long run.
Also, another good thing for the economy is that it is the business traveler that brings investment. Most investors come first as business tourists.
Because money is not really an issue, the business traveler flies business or first class. He also resides in luxury star hotels. As a matter of policy, most organizations will not settle for less for their business leaders.
Another good thing is that the business traveler books his flight and hotel accommodation in advance, something that is very good for hoteliers, carriers, tour operators and suppliers.
The business traveler is also less susceptible to fears of COVID-19 and Ebola, price increases or currency exchange rate fluctuations. Even in times of political unrest or natural disasters – which normally scare off other visitors – the business traveler is targeted. If he (or she) has to deliver, he arrives at a location determined to take care of business as usual.