Business travellers welcome again, but limited and only for larger deals

After more than half a year, the border for business travellers from outside the European Union will carefully reopen tomorrow. It is a first step that should get business travel from faraway countries back on track. By no means everyone will be eligible for it.

For example, the exception only applies to travellers who must necessarily be physically present in order to make a business deal. This may be trade or an investment. In addition, there is a maximum of 500 travellers per month, says a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It also has to be demonstrated in advance that the trip has the potential to create at least five jobs or half a million euros. If that is not included, the visit can still take place if it is essential for the maintenance or growth of jobs and/or the turnover of a company. However, that company must have a turnover of at least EUR 2 million or 10 full-time jobs.

If this cannot be proved either, there is a third option. That is an investment that contributes to innovation, sustainability or digitisation of the Dutch economy.

The Dutch embassy in the country of origin checks whether the conditions are met. If so, the traveller receives a so-called Note Verbale in which permission for the journey is given.

“The threshold is high,” says Marhijn Visser of VNO NCW MKB Nederland. “We are pleased with the scheme because it facilitates trade and investment He cites as an example the sale of a large ship by a shipyard. Because of the restrictions the buyer could not come and see such a purchase recently, even though you want to see it with your own eyes. “That is now possible

From Monday onwards, applications can be formally submitted. So far, about 100 people have indicated that they would like to make use of the scheme, confirms the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Particularly from the US, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, India and Russia.

Mixed feelings

The business travel industry looks at the scheme with mixed feelings. “500 per month is very little,” says Daan Lenderink, director of the Schiphol Travel Group and board member of travel industry association ANVR. “But the exception in itself is nice. It’s good to see that the cabinet is trying to limit the economic damage”

Nevertheless, according to Lenderink, the Dutch business travel market is “completely on its own”. Turnover has plummeted since April. In August, Schiphol Travel Group‘s turnover was even negative. “We have more refunds than we sold tickets. We don’t even have nothing.

Longer term uncertain

Whether business travellers, who are so important to business travel agencies and also KLM, will once again be flying as much as before the corona crisis seems highly uncertain. For example, a coalition of sixty large employers with around half a million fewer employees sees flying as an important item to reduce their CO2 emissions. The ambition is to take the train more often and have more digital meetings. Remote meetings are good, they say.

I applaud that,” says Lenderink. “It‘s nice that everyone is so concerned about the environment,” he adds, but it’s practically more difficult to implement than it seems. “Many people already take the train to Paris and Brussels, but if everyone wants to take the train to London, Milan and Lyon as well, they just can’t do it”