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Business Travel to Recover Sooner than Expected, Says GBTA

Photo Source: GBTA

Business travel recovery in 2021 proceeded at a slower, more cautionary pace than expected from a year ago, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) said in a recent announcement.

However, GBTA added that global business travel spending is expected to surge in 2022 with full recovery expected in 2024–ending the year on pace with the 2019 pre-pandemic spend of 1.4 trillion dollars, and a year sooner than previously forecast.

The association recently released the results of its latest business travel index–the BTI Outlook, which provides a detailed analysis of business travel, spending and growth, covering 73 countries across 44 industries.

Forecasts and analysis highlights from the latest BTI Outlook include the following:

  • After declining 53.8 percent in 2020 to 661 billion dollars, global expenditures are expected to have rebounded 14 percent in 2021 to 754 billion dollars.
  • Despite recovery setbacks in 2021, a year-over-year surge of 38 percent is expected in 2022 as recovery and pent-up demand kicks into a higher gear, bringing global business travel spending back to over 1 trillion dollars.
  • Recovery will continue into 2023, with global spending rising 23 percent year-over-year as even more international and group travel comes back online.
  • By 2024, global business travel is forecast to have made a full recovery, ending the year at 1.48 trillion dollars or just above the 2019 pre-pandemic spend of 1.4 trillion dollars.
  • In 2025, global business travel growth is forecast to slow to 4.3 percent–just below the 10-year average growth rate of 5.1 percent coming into 2020–ending the year at a forecasted 1.5 trillion dollars.

Source: BTI Outlook, GBTA

However, persistent Covid-related threats and disruptions, supply chain strains, labor shortages, rising inflation, increased costs, and lagging recovery in Asian markets are just a few of the risks for continued on-target recovery, the GBTA says.

In addition, yet to be determined are the potential impacts of emerging factors including broad adoption of remote working models, long term cuts or elimination of business trips and travel volume, and the increased focus on sustainability practices and policies for business travel.

The BTI Outlook outlines four conditions necessary for full recovery in global business travel:

  1. the global vaccination effort
  2. national travel policy
  3. business traveler sentiment, and
  4. corporate travel management policy.

The recovery remains highly dependent on the vaccine rollout, employees’ return to the office, and a normalization of travel policies on both the national and corporate levels.

Travel managers will also face the challenge of juggling duty of care with rising costs, sustainability priorities, and new considerations on the ROI of business travel.

The report was conducted in partnership with Rockport Analytics, a research and analytical consulting firm, and made possible by HRS.

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