While leisure travel has been the first to recover from the tremendous hit dealt to the travel sector by COVID-19, corporate travel appears to be catching up. However, due to global economic conditions, this sort of travel now confronts new and varied challenges to full recovery. According to a recent study done by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) of 594 members—travel buyers and suppliers—the recovery of international business travel has reached the halfway point, although economic worries have overtaken COVID-19 as the segment’s top hurdle.
Domestic business travel has recovered 63 percent of its 2019 volumes, while foreign business travel has recovered 50 percent of its 2019 levels, according to travel managers who participated in the GBTA poll, which was conducted September 20 – 26. Approximately one-quarter of the purchasers questioned stated that overseas travel has recovered to more than 70% of pre-pandemic levels. The majority of purchasers said that their businesses had resumed allowing non-essential business travel, regulations that 86 percent of respondents said now apply to domestic travel and 74% said applied to overseas journeys.
“We continue to see progress as business travel makes its way back to being a $1.4 trillion global industry, pre-pandemic,” GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang, said in a statement. “It is also important to understand the context of global business travel’s recovery. Asia is still opening its borders, international business travel, in general, started picking up only earlier this year across the globe, and the U.S. has only permitted unrestricted travel since June.”
When asked about their forecasts for the coming year, just 4% of travel providers queried stated COVID-19 will be the most probable reason for lower business travel reservations. In comparison, 80 percent of suppliers believe that the greatest danger to reservations is frozen or decreased travel budgets as a result of record-high inflation or an oncoming recession.
Nonetheless, both providers and buyers expect that business travel will do better in 2023 than in 2022. Almost 80% of travel managers said that their staff will take more business trips next year than they did this year, and almost two-thirds predicted that both internal and external travel would grow year over year in 2023. Eighty percent of suppliers estimated that their corporate clients’ travel expenditure will grow next year, and 85 percent predicted that year-over-year reservations would increase in 2023.